By Conner Cummings
I am excited to be back and in a more pivotal role with Zoom Magazine, Zoom is expanding to allow even more autistic individuals the opportunity to contribute using your own creative expression. I have many ideas. I look forward to working with our new team to bring it into focus. Do you like the cover picture? I did it. It is my very first cover. I am taking photo shop lessons with Gracie my teacher. I will now be the person who creates the magazine cover. This makes me so happy. It was lots of work to get my fingers to work with what was needed of me and I did it. I picked the colors. Red is my favorite color. I choose this picture with others because to me, this picture says fun. It says love. It says we are a family.
You will learn about each member of the family and how they make a whole.
You may recognize the one gentlemen in the picture as he is Ed Asner from the well-known Mary Tyler Moore show. I love the song “You Might Just Make It After All”. The song tells you to try your passion. That is what I think we are all doing as a team working on this magazine. We are all autistic minus my mom who supports me and Jodi who connects it together with Geek Club Books. This issue is all about family and how it is different and special and unique to each one of us. Family is of course from the same blood, also from marriage, and from friends that are so much more than that. Our loved animals that become their own type of children to us. I have family I feel so very close to that are states and even countries away. Yet, I know they are here for me always caring and supporting who I am, Family can be people we have never met but, because of the internet, the distance does not matter. These people know my soul; the ‘manyness’ of who I am. Family can be of any age, any race, any gender and human is a not a requirement.
Family can be people we have never met but, because of the internet, the distance does not matter. These people know my soul; the ‘manyness’ of who I am. Family can be of any age, any race, any gender and human is a not a requirement.”
In this issue, I came up with an idea that my mom helped me to make a reality. I created a column where we will follow four individual people and their journeys. We will feel like we are a part of their story, like we are watching from wherever we live and being included, as a story is just data with a soul. We will get to know them and feel their choices, their hopes, dreams, and decisions along the way. We can learn from them and we can support them. We will have four new and good friends. I can always use friends, can’t you? In each issue of the four issues this year, you will meet someone new and have a brief catch up on the previous people you have been introduced to.
If you like to write, or have a passion that you want to share with us, please reach out to me. You do not need to be a writer to be a part of Zoom. We are zooming in to your talents and passions whatever they may be. We can link videos if that is your preference. This is one of the great things about being a digital magazine and one of the many reasons we have connected with Geek Club Books, Their team is talented, and they are some of the family that I mentioned we have formed, I have some ideas to for how we can work together, supporting each other, and who knows, maybe one day, I will be a Geek Club Books’ character!
Since our last Cummings and Goings, my mom and I have been blessed with many journeys and many unique experiences, I gave the Governor of Virginia a pair of Mickey Mouse Ears that I signed for his office. When he looks at those ears, I want him to see HOPE, to realize how accomplished we all are in our own way. To recognize our abilities not just our disabilities – our strengths not our weaknesses. To respect and fight along with us to receive the tools and other supports we may need, This was an experience I will always remember. My Mickey Mouse Ears that I wear because they give me an inner strength and confidence to carry myself proudly-no longer is a joke. I am no longer a person you may make fun of, but a person who shares this gift with Governors, and where Legislators and Congress take selfie pictures with me so they can share how we have met, Along with my mom, my family in all shapes, sizes, colors, beliefs and locations have supported who I am.
I gave the Governor of Virginia a pair of Mickey Mouse Ears that I signed for his office. When he looks at those ears, I want him to see HOPE, to realize how accomplished we all are in our own way.”
Mom and I went to California to meet with a Senator but while we were there the meeting got cancelled. Instead, we stayed with friends and we went to Disneyland and it was so magical. We also went to the beach while in California and I played in the water. We had not been to the beach in four years. Mom has known these friends for 45 years and not seen them in 25 years and because of the internet, we reconnected with them just like no time had passed, Family! We are working behind the scenes in seven states hoping to introduce Conner’s Law with more states to come.
We also drove to Raleigh, North Carolina as we were invited to Tim Tebow’s ‘Night to Shine’ event, It was my first one and I liked it a lot. I was greeted by walking down the red carpet although mom said I was so excited that technically I ran. Everyone cheers and claps for you while they welcome you, Of course, I had my Mickey Mouse ears on. My mom went to a parent location where they had a meal and a massage. She took dance lessons and played games. She said it was fun. I met a buddy who I hung out with for the evening. We did so many fun things. We ate dinner and we went to the dance floor and danced the night away. I showed Emmitt some of my dance moves. We also played a game of corn hole where you try to throw a bean bag into a hole. One time I did 7 times in a row and I was the champ. We even went on a limo ride with new friends. I even got a crown and I was a king. Not just me but everyone. Every guy and girl were crowned. This event takes hundreds of caring volunteers working hard for months, These volunteers high-five you, clapping and talking to you and listening. I saw hundreds of people dancing and playing games, some just preferred to watch but all had smiles and were having fun…their way! Next year I may be a volunteer. I can ask people to dance, assist with games, listen to those who want to talk and stand by and smile to those that want to watch. Everyone is welcome and everyone is wanted. Every person has an inner and outer shine and Night to Shine acts as an illuminator for everyone to realize that. So if you are reading this, please know you are a beautiful person. You shine like magic. You have friends and many can be called family. You are not alone. It’s everyone’s time to shine.
Conner Cummings is a professional photographer in the Metro DC area. Conner speaks his written words. As an autistic self-advocate Conner changed a law in the state of Virginia named after him – Conner’s Law. Together with his mom they are working to change this law state by state. He is the 2015 Autism Society of America’s ‘Advocate of the Year’. Conner also enjoys writing for his popular Facebook page Conquer for Conner.
Read more articles in Zoom Autism Magazine, Issue 13:
- Lights, Camera, Activism! Up Close with Matt and Ed Asner by Lydia Wayman
- Walking with Owen by Walter Suskind
- I Will Never Go to Harvard…And That’s Okay! By Jacob Fuentes
- Parenting, Spectrum Style by Maura Campbell
- “I Have Stopped Using the Word ‘Family’ and Have Never Looked Back!” by Becca Lory
- How I Found My Happy Ending by Megan Amodeo
- The Impact of Camouflaging, Anxiety and Trust by Robert Watkins
- What Does the Word Family Mean to You?