A Solana Beach mother is hoping to share her son's journey with autism and inspire others to better include those with disabilities into society through her latest book.
In "Radical Inclusion: What I Learned About Risk, Humility and Kindness from My Son with Autism,” Andrea Moriarty takes readers behind-the-scenes of her 24-year-old son Reid's podcast and musical performances, and discusses other opportunities around the world for those living with disabilities.
The author, who also wrote 2015's "One Track Mind," will launch "Radical Inclusion" on Dec. 6 at Flower Child in Del Mar. (The book is currently available on Amazon.com.)
The event will feature live music by Reid's band, Jungle Poppins, which is comprised of a group of young adults living with disabilities.
Ahead of the event, Moriarty discussed her intentions with "Radical Inclusion."
For more information, visit www.andreamoriarty.com.
This Q&A has been shortened for length.
Q: What is 'Radical Inclusion' about?
A: I'm really weaving together three things in the book, and it's really a call to action to communities to be more inclusive of adults with disabilities, not as a charitable act but because it's best for all of us. It's the way that we all thrive when everyone belongs. In order to make that case, I weaved together three things: stories of Reid making his podcast and the people we've met; model programs that we encountered around the country as we made podcasts; and movie scenes that have been part of our family aesthetic. That's organized into three sections: risk, humility and kindness. Those are just attributes that I feel like the podcast's guests exhibited in conversations with Reid.
If everyone else in communities would embrace risk, humility and kindness, we all grow. All of us of all abilities are better people when we embrace risk, humility and kindness. In fact, the people with disabilities help us. That's what it's about. It's a resource for people because it gives incredible examples around the country of programs that are radically including people of different abilities, like entrepreneurial training, car washes and acting programs. I also tell the behind-the-scenes stories of making the podcasts, which are entertaining and funny but then you see the powerful connection that Reid makes with a total stranger when they are open to interacting with him. There are 24 podcasts included and 12 movie scenes. ... It's really a big idea that when we include people of different abilities, we all thrive together. They need us to thrive, and when we are available to them, we grow, too. It's really about the big idea of making the world a better place by including everyone.
Q: Why did you want to write this book and make sure people understand this message?
A: My motivations as Reid has turned 21 and become an adult is really what happens when I'm gone? I feel like I've spent the first 20 years of his life helping him fit into the world. There's a little bit of a shift when our kids with disabilities turn 20, and then it's like, 'OK. I'm not going to be here forever, so how do I make the world a better place for him so when I'm gone there's a village that rises up to support him instead of my husband and I making up the difference?' That's kind of the compelling motivation for him and others. Autism is now impacting one in 50 boys. There's an increasing number of adult males and adults with autism in society. I feel like it's relevant and timely because our culture is going to have to embrace these young men more and more in productive ways. They're so capable and able in productive ways but they can't do it alone. They need some mentoring, modeling and support.
Q: How long have you been working on this book? Has this been something that you've kind of always been thinking about?
A: The podcast is almost five years old. When we produce it, we've had so many great adventures making it. It's just been so compelling and such a great adventure that, really, after the first year of making the podcast, I was just like, 'Oh my gosh. I have to share this.' Of course, the process of his turning an adult has been over the last three years. The first book I wrote was really a parenting resource of maximizing your child's special interests. On the heels of that, this just became the next big idea for me.
Q: How much research did you have to do for 'Radical Inclusion'?
A: Each of the model programs, of course, has research supporting them. ... I cite some of those, but it's mostly written as a memoir of personal experience more than a research book. That said, I'm kind of a reference person by nature so it's definitely a resource for people. My hope is that people will read it and start these programs in their communities. Only one of the 12 programs I highlight is here in San Diego; all the others are in other parts of the country from Los Angeles to England.