Autism expert heads up new podcast for Ann Arbor District Library

Coinciding with April's designation as National Autism Acceptance Month, the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL)'s Fifth Avenue Studios has unveiled a new limited-series podcast called "Autism: 10 Lessons for the Course of Life."

Hosted by Dr. Rick Solomon, the podcast is designed for anyone who interacts with a child with autism. Solomon is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician with more than 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and young adults with autism. Affectionately known as "Dr. Rick" by many, Solomon is internationally recognized as an expert in his field. He's curated a list of the 10 most important things that he's learned from research and his experience working with numerous families, and each episode offers related insights.

"There were a lot of surprises, even for me, as I put it together, so that's why it might be appealing to people. Guests talk really honestly," he says. "I play a minor role, like the stage director, but the play itself takes on a life of its own."

On the podcast, Solomon conducts interviews and open discussions with families he's helped. Guests can include children and young adults with autism, and their parents and siblings.

"You get to experience their lives 360 [degrees] as they navigated their journeys. It's really powerful to hear directly from the families," Solomon says. "Some episodes have three families. Some of them have kids with autism speaking – I interviewed little girl twins about reading and they're so cute."

Solomon shares that the podcast was in the works for a year. He explains that he happened to start a conversation with an AADL staffer about wanting to start a podcast on autism. He was surprised when the staff member told him that Fifth Avenue Studios could help. 

Solomon, who is the founder of The PLAY Project autism early intervention program, says he's been trying to promote "a play-based developmental, relationship-based intervention that empowers parents."

In his first lesson on the podcast, for example, Solomon interviews parents who discuss trying different therapies until they found something that worked. They discuss how intensive early intervention and playfulness helped change the course of their daughter's life.

Solomon adds that another "powerful lesson" running through the whole podcast is the idea of neurodiversity. 

"Accepting a child for exactly where they're at, that is actually the fastest way to help them make progress," he says. "The idea of enjoying them for who they are is one of the big secrets to success for families that I share." 

Jaishree Drepaul is a freelance writer and editor based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

Art courtesy of AADL.
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