TV Producer Discovers More Tiles of the Autism Mosaic

(April 21, 2014) - This guest blog post is by James Ponti, senior producer for the Golf Channel. He worked on the “In Play with Jimmy Roberts” special feature on golf and autism.

I believe in mosaics. I think that large pictures made up of a multitude of smaller elements are usually more effective than singular images when it comes to telling a story or conveying an idea. It’s a philosophy that I use when producing television shows and writing books. And it’s the way I approach autism. I am by no means an expert in autism. But I know a lot about one small tile in that picture – my son Alex.

Alex is the center of my life and like everyone, whether they’re on the spectrum or not, he is truly a unique blend of personality, character and ability. I know that to those outside our circle of friends and family he is a twenty-one year old, non-verbal autistic adult with no language and limited communication ability who suffers ten to twenty seizures a day. To ignore these truths is to ignore the difficulty of the challenges he faces on a daily basis. But I also know that to focus solely on them is to miss the reality of who he is. These symptoms in no way define him. They are just tiles in his mosaic.

In addition to being Alex’s father, I am a senior producer at Golf Channel. One of the shows I work on is In Play with Jimmy Roberts and when we discussed the possibility of doing a story about an autistic teenager who plays on his high school golf team, I knew that I wanted to produce that feature. When our creative team started discussing how we might expand upon that story, we saw the opportunity to make a small mosaic. In addition to telling the story of the teenage boy, we were able to show how golf and autism were intersecting in surprising ways. We were able to go beyond symptoms and statistics to tell a story of real people. It is a story that includes major champions, minor victories and even goes back to the first person ever diagnosed on the spectrum. The best part of working on it was meeting other families and their amazing children. I’m honored that they’re letting us tell part of their story. I am honored to be able to add another piece to the picture.

Watch The Golf Channel video below:

 

 

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