I first heard of the charity “NEXT for AUTISM” on the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. My ears perked up because Jon Stewart exemplifies and individual that respects and wants to understand autistic people. He endorsed the book “The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism” written by Naoki Higashida on his show. He encouraged everyone to watch “Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs” Of course the show is funny and entertaining with multiple comedy spots, but the program also showcased the talents of autistic individuals like Jodi DiPiazza as she played the piano and sang with the likes of Katy Perry and Weird Al Yankovic. Viewers could contribute by calling in or by entering contest like being drawn in as a character on “South Park”.
Beyond the fun, NEXT for AUTISM is all about designing, launching and supporting programs for people on the autistic spectrum in all age groups. They don’t look at autism as something that needs to be “cured” or genetically removed from our society. As per their website their programs must meet the following criteria.
- Do our programs strive for excellence, to be the best-in-class?
- Do they promote greater integration of individuals with autism and participation in their communities?
- Do they achieve wider national impact as dissemination models?
- Do they serve as catalysts for systemic change in perspectives and practices in the field of autism services?
Not to be outdone with the likes of PBS, “Night of Too Many Stars” also gave out nifty tote bags with “Suck it, PBS” on one side. One can also donate to this organization via the Amazon Smile program. I have donated to this organization in the past and encourage others to do the same.