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“This American Life” Explores Friendship With Autism

On May 9, 2014, the nationally-renowned radio show “This American Life” delved into the complex world of autistic adolescence. Their segment titled “Horse of a Differenct Color” tells the story of Maya, a 13-year-old who has been struggling to make meaningful connections with her peers all her life.

Happily for Maya, a new friendship (her first ever) is teaching her what it means to care for another person, and is having life-changing impacts that stretch well beyond her social life.

Although Maya has never been diagnosed with autism for technical reasons, the segment’s writer, Chana Joffe-Walt, explains that Maya exhibits nearly all of the characteristics of those on the spectrum, including sensitivity to touch, difficulty with social/emotional reciprocity and lack of eye contact.

Her inspiring story is insightful for listeners both inside and outside the autism community: for those inside, it’s a testament to each child’s potential to find growth opportunities around every corner. For those outside, it is an important reminder of the lasting impact neuro-typical friends can have on the lives of those with autism.

Listen to the full story using the media portal.

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