The piano serves as a vehicle for Steven Atme’s feelings but on Friday, his performance was meant to celebrate the existence of another medium — one he enjoys working with.
“I do,” he laughed. “I really, really, really do. “Especially as a man that talks a lot.”
Atme is a contributor for Inspirations, a newspaper that serves primarily people with special needs. This is his eighth year working with the paper in various capacities, but in 2016 he was given a special opportunity.
“They asked me, as a man living with autism, to be one of the columnists sharing my experiences as a man living with autism,” he told Global News.
Inspirations started out as a 12-page publication ten years ago and has grown to 44 pages, published four times a year, in print and online.
“We mix content, success stories of individuals with special needs, along with resources,” explained managing editor Wendy Singer.
On Friday the staff threw a party to celebrate at the MacKay Centre and Philip E. Layton schools in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Among guests were singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright who has a child with a disability at the school. She thinks Inspirations is a valuable tool.
“It’s useful for us to know that you’re not alone, to be able to find references that we need to find, to be able to connect with the community to be able to feel within the larger community as well,” she said.
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That’s exactly how Atme sees it. It was hard for him growing up with autism. He was bullied because of it and he felt isolated.
But he managed to overcome the bullying and is successful in spite of his disability. That’s why he writes, to encourage others with disabilities.
“People respond with tears, light, hope,” he beamed.
Managers at the paper say they also want to help to reduce discrimination against people with special needs.
“We’re really focused on inclusion,” Singer stresses. “Trying to educate the population that when you see someone in a wheelchair or you see somebody with autism or somebody that can’t hear, that there’s an individual in there that is just like you.”
They want to open doors so others can succeed, as Atme has.