I’m on a mission to profoundly change the way the world views autism…one story at a time.
~ Jodi Murphy
My adult son is on the autism spectrum and from the outside he looked just like any other little boy. But his brain is wired differently. He is autistic. The kids at school thought he was weird, so they teased and taunted him, and never invited him over to play.
It’s his story, but sadly it’s a universal experience when you are autistic.
And when 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum and 70% of them say that they are isolated and bullied in school, we must do a better job of educating children about autism and making those who are autistic feel included and valued.
If we do nothing, these children will become even more isolated and financially dependent as adults. Currently 90% of autistic adults are either unemployed or underemployed. It’s important that you care even if you do not have a loved one with autism. It’s estimated that autism costs more than $126 billion each year in the US. But we can change all of that if we just give autistic individuals the opportunity to contribute their talents and abilities.
The story arc of my son’s life is a happy one.
No longer bullied or stigmatized, he is happy and contributing his gifts to the world. So I wondered, “How can I help support other families with autistic loved ones? I’m not a medical professional, a politician, or a celebrity, so how can I make a difference?”
I decided to use app technology to engage and tell real stories from my son’s youth to entertain children while educating them about autism. Research shows that narrative has a powerful impact on the brain, so I use our autism stories to elicit empathy and affect change.
I called this creative project “Geek Club Books” and one year ago we released our first storybook app, Mighty League, Vol. 1: The Terrible Taunting. It’s an interactive comic book, about an autistic boy (or girl – because the reader can choose the gender) on his (or her) superhero quest to stop bullying on the playground. And the story is inspired by my son’s real life experiences. Parents, kids, educators and app reviewers said our app encourages acceptance and understanding. My son received a Temple Grandin award for his contribution to the app. But even more rewarding is having made a powerful connection to an amazing community.
Our storytelling has gone from ‘project’ to a movement, initiative, and catalyst for change.
In August we became a 501c3 charity because Geek Club Books is more than the creation of story apps. We have programs for empowerment, education and positive autism advocacy. We worked with the national Autism Society on the Autimism (rhymes with optimism) initiative, putting forth positive views of autism during April Autism Awareness Month. We have a platform for autistic writers to share their points of view—hopes, challenges, and dreams. When you read what they have to say, you will connect with and truly understand what it’s like to be autistic.
I am unendingly proud of my mom for taking a risk by taking her idea and turning it into a movement, connecting people in solidarity and advocacy, giving a voice to an under-served community, and providing resources and a place for everyone to share their stories.
~Molly Murphy, Mighty League Author
I feel as though my entire life’s experiences and my career have led me to this! I have come full circle…back to being a mom, back to my creativity and passion, and though there is a long road ahead, I just know that I am on the right path, at the right time. I’m going beyond the story to entertain and educate with a social mission. And we are already making a positive impact, one family at a time.
**Geek Club Books (501c3 autism storytelling for positive change) next project is the “Mighty League Vol. 2: The Horrible Hug” story app. Read all the details on their INDIEGOGO page. A contribution will help them build their library of ‘autistic main character’ story apps, curriculum and expand their autistic writers and Mighty League Kids empowerment programs.