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A superhero we all can relate to. June 28, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Okay, so the Man of Steel is once again fighting greed and corruption, and the Lone Ranger is righting wrongs out West. But what if the wrong you need to fight is something you were born with, or something that happened to you?

Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own personal superhero, a superhero who was fighting to save you, a superhero who was you? The other day, our friend Ben wrote a post, “Making a difference” (check it out via our search bar at upper right or just scroll down), about three young men whose online presence, despite severe disabilities, was changing the world. Two of these are brothers, Kambel and Kantai Smith, both of whom battle autism.

Autism is a prison of fear and confusion: Behind its bars, your oversensitive system reacts to stimuli such as noise and touch with terror, and you fail to register facial expressions or the meaning behind vocal intonations or body language, so your interactions with other people are often fraught with misunderstanding.

Bestselling author, scientist and professor Temple Grandin, who herself has severe autism, has likened the condition to the feelings of a prey animal, in essence a sheep who’s always waiting for the wolves to close in. Imagine living in a world in which the chatter and music in a restaurant are as loud as a sonic boom, or someone’s touch on your arm is like an electric shock.

A person with autism can respond to these experiences with anything from rage and roaring to trying to protect themselves through hiding, arms crossed over their face or lifting a menu before them like a shield, or with soothing behaviors, such as rocking back and forth or squeezing themselves between rigid surfaces, where they feel protected and safe. (Dr. Grandin created a “squeeze box” to calm herself.)

If this all seems incomprehensible to you, I strongly recommend Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. (The title is based on an episode from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s chronicles of one of my heroes, Sherlock Holmes.) Mr. Haddon’s mystery is based on his work with autistic children, and its autistic hero, Christopher, will win your heart even as he solves the crime.

The struggle autistic people face to find a place in our world doesn’t make them less human, less intelligent, or less creative. Quite the opposite. High-functioning autism (formerly described as Asperger’s syndrome) is characterized by very high intelligence. My own nephew, who suffers from this, knew the names and traits of every African ungulate (his favorite animals, such as antelopes) by age three and has taught himself Latin and Greek by age 16.

Lonnie Smith, Kambel and Kantai’s father, saw this genius and potential in his sons. Together, they created a superhero, Survivor, who bravely battles the dreaded League of Diseases, headed by his nemesis, Cheeo, whose chief weapon is depression. Kantai’s animated realization of Survivor, Cheeo, and the other characters in the ongoing animated series, “Survivor Evolution,” can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/KNSnetwork. Please log on and check it out and subscribe, it’s fantastic!

Kantai just graduated from high school, and both boys, thanks to Lonnie’s unfailing support, are now bound for associate degrees in media arts. May Survivor live long and prosper, and bring the family prosperity as well!

As Lonnie reminds me, and all of us: “Cheeo is the greatest enemy of all Autisarians because he comes from within. He is pure evil, but wherever evil exists there is always an overwhelming force of good to fight it. I AM SURVIVOR!”

As, God willing, are we all.



1. Lonnie Smith - July 2, 2013

Great Post!! You are a motivational force in our battle to conquer the negative and enhance the positive affects of autism. My sons and I thank you.

Thanks, Lonnie! And the three of you are a motivational force for the rest of us!

2. Lonnie Smith - July 19, 2013

I wanted to let you know, we just release part one of our new depression video. Hope you enjoy it, we had lots of fun putting it together. Thanks again for your support.

Thanks so much, Lonnie! Have you considered using a “crowdfunding” site like Kickstarter to fund some of your projects? I’m a techno-idiot, so i can’t advise you, but you could check out the site and see what you think. You certainly have a compelling story and plenty of visuals to present!

3. Lonnie Smith - September 18, 2013


I would like to thank you for your crowdfunding suggestion, what a great idea! I took a look at Kickstarter and we now have a project online with them. You have been extremely helpful in our efforts to bring Survivor to the world and in my personal effort to keep my sons motivated. To show our appreciation we’ve created a new character in your honor and we wanted to make sure in some way we included the name Poor Richard in the characters profile. With your permission the character will become part of our Kickstarter project. This is the characters profile:

Name: Rupert Richards
Nickname: Roop
Age: Unknown
Legend says that Roop is the oldest autistic man alive, some say he’s the first. He lives on an old abandoned block where he transmits a motivational broadcast that only an autistic mind can hear.

With your permission I will place what my sons call a really cool Roop poster with profile to our Kickstarter project. We hope you will accept this gift and continue to help us spread the word about Survivor. Thanks again, we sincerely appreciate your support.

Thank you Lonnie, what an incredible honor! May Roop and Survivor live and prosper! I am so humbled by this honor, I’m pretty much beyond words. I can’t wait to follow Roop and Survivor as they battle Cheeo and the forces of evil!

Lonnie Smith - September 18, 2013

Great! I’ve added Roop’s image and profile to Kickstarter. Thanks again for your support, not too much project interest so far so please spread the word.

Will do, Lonnie! Your Kickstarter page looks great. I’ll post about it tomorrow. Meanwhile, I thought I’d managed to make a pledge to support you, but being a Luddite (aka techno-idiot), I must have screwed up because I didn’t see it show up on the Kickstarter page. I don’t want to double-pledge, so give it two days and if you don’t see anything significant, please e-mail again and I’ll try again. Hopefully it will work from the page itself! Kambel’s art is as good as anything out there, I’m so wowed I can’t begin to say. And Kantai continues to expand the story to give it universal relevance! Please tell your sons from me how exceptional they are and how proud I am of them.

4. Lonnie Smith - September 18, 2013

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