Every morning 11-year-old Sasha Hemingway plays his ukulele, one of many in his home full of musical instruments. He often plays songs of his own inspiration, but sometimes enjoys an old-time favorite. Ending his fifth-grade year with a ukulele concert solo, Hemingway looks forward to starting middle school in the fall.
Discovering the spectrum
Hemingway‘s mother, Miko Fossum, has learned a lot about neurodiversity, a term she uses to describe what life is like raising a son on the spectrum. Early on, Fossum observed that Sasha’s behaved differently than her older children. She began exploring communication programs and, at age four, enrolled him in summer classes for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology. Since developing social skills and understanding social cues can be challenging for children on the spectrum, Fossum has learned how she can best help her son.
Now that Hemingway is almost a teenager, Fossum finds that having a supportive community, limiting technology, embracing daily interactions, and providing nutritious foods on a vegan diet makes a noticeable difference in his behavior quality of life for the whole family.
“I think of (Sasha’s condition) more as a possibility than a disability,” Fossum said.
Social skills and imagination
While Hemingway enjoys playing music and writing daily, he also has a strong interest in becoming a filmmaker and often casts friends and family in the screenplays he is thinking about. “Sometimes they don’t even know it yet,” Hemingway said, “but everyone will know their part by the time we start making the film.”
In addition, Hemingway can list the details of authors and illustrators of many books and movies. He can also tell you the complete discography of Tom Waits, which he learned at age 6. Focused on creative pursuits, he grumbles about not yet being a published writer, despite having a few books already written. But with a name like Hemingway, his creative future certainly looks bright.