Actor visits DM to raise autism awareness

Ed Asner’s grandson, son affected

Del Mar’s Winston School got a celebrity visit on June 11 when Ed Asner, popularly known as Lou Grant from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and who voices a leading character in the new animated Disney/Pixar film “Up,” joined a panel discussion titled “Living Life on the Spectrum: Student and Parent Perspectives on Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.” The subject is close to Asner’s heart, as both his son and grandson have autism.

Other panelists included two Winston students with Asperger’s syndrome, a Winston teacher and the parent of an eighth-grader with autism.

The panelists answered questions on how the condition affects one’s life in areas such as friendship and social skills, along with general questions such as what they were good at and what they hoped for their future.

At the end of the session, members of the audience, who were mostly family members of those with autism, were able to ask the panelists questions.

“We’re really hoping to get the word out about how autism can be handled in a school setting, and also give people support that these kids can really do something in the world, that there are ways for them to succeed and ways for them to grow like any high-school-age or

college-age student,” Winston School Headmaster Mike Peterson said of the first event in a series.

The discussion was the first of “The Winston School Conversation Series: A Path to Educational Excellence,” which will deal with topics relating to educational issues and is open to the public.

Earlier in the day, Winston students along with their parents and friends were treated to a private screening of the movie “Up” at the Flower Hill Cinema, which included a question-and-answer session with Asner.

The Winston School in Del Mar, founded in 1988, serves students in grades 4 through 12 who have learning differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, ADHD, ADD and other learning disabilities. Approximately a quarter of its students are on the autism spectrum. For more information, visit

or call 259-8155.