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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Saving Deets! A Family's Journey with Autism

Saving Deets! Coming Soon:

To continue with teens that inspire, Zack Gonzalez recently came to my attention. This 16 year old, soon to be published author, discovered his calling through his 7 year old autistic brother, Ethan. Since his brother was diagnosed, he has been dedicated to the cause of helping these children and creating awareness through his own radio show, raising money for autism, as well as his new book about his family’s journey coming out in October 2009.

Learn more about this amazing teen in this recent interview he provided me.
Q. Tell us why you are interested in autism and what inspired you to write a book about this topic?

A. The interest in autism came from my brother. He was diagnosed in 2005 and ever since then I have been researching it and trying to find out as much as I can. He was also my main inspiration for the book. After the constant researching and advocacy I learned so much. I was finally told that writing a book is something I should consider. At first, I was like “Yeah that would be cool” but I had no idea where to start. I honestly did not think that I could do it. Then, my mom told me to just do it. She always told me that there was nothing I could not accomplish and that’s where it all started.

Q. What motivates you?

A. I have so many motivations. My main motivation is helping my brother. He is what keeps me going. Over the summer I volunteered at his summer camp and got to work with more children with special needs. That experience really opened my eyes. I enjoyed it so much and from there I realized that my brother isn’t the only one I should be doing this for. From there my motivation has been these kids in general. They are such awesome kids and I do it all for them. They have to work twice as hard every day and even then some people still exclude them and laugh at them. Really, they are not that much different; they all mean the world to me!

Q. What do your friends, teachers and family think of your crusade on behalf of your brother as well as many other children in the world?

A. At first I kept a lot from them. I didn’t really tell them much about what I was doing. The only one that knew was my mom. I don’t know why I kept it from everyone for so long. After everyone found out I got so many accolades and so much more support. It gives me a good feeling to know that I have my friends and family supporting me.

Q. Do you have any hobbies outside of your mission?
A. I don’t really. I dedicate all of my time to bringing awareness and raising money. I started with attending charity events and volunteering to create my own event, Play Now for Autism, to writing the book, which led to the radio show, and now I am starting my own line of clothes, Autism Awareness by Zack. So I donate a lot of my time to the cause. Other than that I have my studies that I try to focus on.
Q. Your new book will be released in October, Saving Deets!: A Family's Journey with Autism – what is “Deets”? Do you have a sneak preview for us that you would like to tell us about?

A. It’s funny that you ask this because I knew this would be a popular question so I wrote a small section explaining it in the Preface of my book with the that title “What is a Deets”. Deets is my brother. His name is Ethan but my other brother Elijah gave him the name while on a road trip to Washington. It was actually Deetens but was shortened to Deets. Where he came up with the name, I don’t know. I he was trying to say Ethan but it came out as Deetens. As for a sneak peak, all I will say is that it is filled with love! It has heart-filled stories, pictures, and lots of helpful information! The main themes of it are Acceptance, Recover, and Making A Difference.

Q. Tell us about your radio show, “It’s On With Zack” – what do you discuss? How do you decide what your topics will be?

A. The show is still new. It airs live every other Saturday morning. There are still some technical errors here and there but overall it gets better every week. The show has a Co-Host now and a Start Up Audio, finally! We discuss all topics pertaining to autism. Whether its diets or books or vaccines, it’s all covered. Every episode has an interview/interviews with people active in the autism community and most episodes will feature news stories or open discussions. Once in a while we throw in a heated debate, which is really fun. The show also has autism-related songs that are just awesome! We don’t really pick a theme per episode it’s more of just what ever is in the news that week and who ever is on the show that day. But overall it’s a fun show; it’s my favorite thing to do. Visit Blogtalk Radio with Zack for more information.

Q. Who do you admire and why?
A. I admire my parents. They are both pretty young so I have great relationships with them. They are always by my side! My grandparents are great support to me also. My whole family is my awesome support group so I do admire them for that.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. I really don’t plan ahead, I just kind of do things as I go so at this point after the clothing line, who knows? I know that God has been with me since day one and everyday my once large path has gotten more and more narrow leading me to where I am meant to be. However, I would like to open up my own non-profit autism organization that helps families fund for biomedical interventions and different services. That may be what I do next.

Q. Can you recommend any websites, resources or other valuable information people can find out more about autism?

A. My book is filled with helpful information and resources! But I don’t want to sound narcissistic or anything. Some awesome sites would be Age of Autism, there is where we get a lot of news stories for the radio show, Generation Rescue (Jenny McCarthy’s Organization), Autism Talk Radio, Autism Speaks, Stan Kurtz’s Website, and the list goes on but these are some really neat resources to check out!

Q. Is there anything you would like us to know about you and your cause?

A. I’ve pretty much said it all. I am very devoted to this cause. It is a wonderful cause to help and it could always use more help. It keep growing and growing every year. I believe it is greater than AIDS, Cancer, and Diabetes combined so you know it is growing drastically. All I ask is that you support and help bring more awareness and more raise more money!
Thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you! Be sure to visit Zack's MySpace page, Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter! Watch for his new website coming soon!
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