Updated: Sep 24
How the elephants became our mascots.
The elephant is a remarkable animal that is often associated with strength, intelligence, and a deep sense of empathy. For organizations that care for children and their families, the elephant makes an excellent mascot because of its nurturing nature, its strong familial bonds, and its ability to provide a protective environment for its young.
With their strong sense of community, elephants demonstrate the importance of building supportive networks and creating a safe and nurturing environment for children and their families. Additionally, the elephant's intelligence and problem-solving skills symbolize the importance of finding innovative solutions to challenges and providing high-quality care to those in need.
Overall, the elephant's unique characteristics make it a fitting symbol for organizations that prioritize compassion, empathy, and support for children and their families.
The Birth Circle
Elephants are intelligent and social creatures that exhibit a wide range of behaviors, including protecting their young.
One of the most fascinating behaviors is their tendency to form a circle of protection around a birthing mother. This circle, also known as a "birth circle," is created by female elephants who gather around the mother to offer support and protection during the birthing process.
The birth circle is a fascinating phenomenon that has been observed by researchers and conservationists. When a female elephant is about to give birth, other elephants will gather around her in a tight-knit circle. They do this by standing side by side, facing outward, with their trunks pointed toward the outside of the circle.
The mother elephant stands in the center of the circle, surrounded by her female companions. This circle serves as a protective barrier against predators and other potential threats.
The birth circle is not a random occurrence. Female elephants have been observed to form this circle around the birthing mother even when they are not related to her. This suggests that there is some sort of social bond between elephants that extends beyond familial ties. Elephants are known to be highly social creatures, with a complex social structure that is based on strong bonds between individuals.
The concept of the birth circle in elephants is a powerful example of the protective and supportive nature of communities. Similarly, Autism Community Network also demonstrates the power of supportive networks in providing a safe and protective environment for individuals with autism.
Individuals with autism often face unique challenges and difficulties, and having a supportive network of individuals who understand these challenges can make a significant difference. ACN provides a sense of community and belonging for individuals with autism, their families, and caregivers.
Like the elephants in the birth circle, ACN also serves as a protective barrier against external threats and provides a safe and nurturing environment for individuals with autism. It allows for individuals to receive support and guidance, to connect with others who have similar experiences and to receive access to resources that can help them navigate their unique challenges.
The formation of the ACN is also not a random occurrence. Like the elephants, individuals with autism have been observed to have strong social bonds with others who understand their experiences. These bonds often extend beyond familial ties and are based on shared experiences and mutual understanding.
Moreover, just as the formation of the birth circle creates a sense of community and support for the mother elephant, ACN creates a sense of belonging and connection for individuals with autism. It can help them build relationships, develop social skills, and feel less isolated and alone.
ACN, like the elephants in the birth circle, serves as an example of the power of empathy and compassion. It highlights the importance of understanding and supporting others who may have unique challenges and experiences.
In conclusion, the formation of the birth circle in elephants and the creation of the autism community network demonstrate the power of supportive communities in providing a safe and protective environment for individuals who may face unique challenges. Just as the elephants come together to protect and support the birthing mother, the autism community network provides a sense of community and belonging for individuals with autism, their families, and caregivers.
It highlights the importance of building strong social bonds and developing empathy and compassion for others who may have different experiences than our own.
The designers story
The designer of our logo also had a story to tell that really hit home for many of us. We hope it will for you too.
Corey Livingston is not only our logo's designer, he is a father whose son, Christian, was diagnosed by our staff in 2012. After receiving a diagnosis for Christian, Corey and his mother, Lisa, hit the ground running and dove into every program, service, and class we offered. Having a better understanding of how Christian communicates helped him identify an elephant-sized bonding experience in his own home.
"I had hit a point in fatherhood where resentment and fear were at their highest. Christian wasn't bonding with me, or with anyone for that matter. Ever since I found out we were having a boy, I had a BIG Future planned out for him. I would daydream about little league practice, halloween costumes, making macaroni art, and creating dioramas that crushed the book fair competition. You know, real father and son type stuff.
Everything seemed to be on track up until around when Christian was 2. He wasn't making eye contact with me like he used to; his vocabulary regressed from 15-20 clearly spoken words into a series of guttural grunts and hums. But the hardest part was saying 'I love you' and feeling like he didn't understand or feel the same way. This went on for a few years. He avoided hugs, had no interest in baseball, and I was alone at the table making macaroni art, wondering why the therapy wasn't curing him and if he would ever love anyone how I loved him. I haven't shared in the pain that comes from losing a child, but I feel like this had its similarities.
The classes helped me understand him, the support groups made me feel less alone, and the therapy... well, honestly, the therapies didn't deliver the results I was wishing for. Yes, they helped him to a degree but, they didn't incentivize him to initiate a relationship and that was what I wanted more than anything. But now he can match shapes... cool.
I don't remember how long that resentment festered, but I do remember when it was soothed. ACN was offering a workshop on a child-lead therapy that was centered around play. My mother and I both thought it was worth a try. I mean, what's one more therapy, right?
DIRFloortime was a game changer. Carrie A was a ninja that slipped into our family and identified a .6-second window for us to meet Christian in his world (or The Matrix as we call it) and bring him into ours for small periods of time. After a few months, that .6-second window into The Matrix expanded and what was then a foreign practice and is now normal interaction for Christian, my mother, his teachers, and myself.
It was like I was given a new set of eyes to see the world through. Christian and I were making strides. He was coming and taking me by the hand to the doorknob to go outside and PLAY. He wants me there... with him. It may not be little league, but it's closer than we've ever been before.
So, what the hell does any of this have to do with elephants? So glad you asked.
DIRFloortime taught me how to find enjoyment in what Christian likes, which is great. But would he ever reciprocate and find enjoyment in ours? Would love, affection, or admiration ever be important to him? Is there even room in The Matrix for these things? The thought that Christian would never be able to understand the kind of warmth and love my mother provided me as a child scared me. Loneliness, despair, and sorrow started creeping their way back into existence. And then the Dumbo incident happened.
One of my all-time favorite movies growing up was Dumbo. I'm not sure if it was the merriment of an elephant flying around a tent by his ears that was so provoking, but whatever it was, I was hooked.
While walking down the hall at home one Saturday, I heard a chorus of crows singing "When I See an Elephant Fly" coming from Christian's iPad laboratory. I was like; No way, Is he watching Dumbo? And sure enough, he was. The old version, too! I started to sing along with the melody to let him know I'm coming to visit The Matrix. He hates it when people sing along with the Ipad, and I know this, so the interaction was clearly about me, but he gave me a smirk and let it slide. Ok, Dad. I get it. You know this one.
Throughout the next month, Dumbo became the preferred YouTube genre of choice. All of the dumbo hits were played ad infinitum and I was overjoyed that there was a similar interest. I would smirk and let out a quick nose laugh any time I heard another dumbo track start up.
And then it happened.
About 30 seconds into a song called "Baby of Mine", Dumbo's mother sticks her trunk outside of the barred boxcar, caresses Dumbo's loving face with her trunk, picks him up, and starts rocking him back and forth. So touched by this moment, Christian picked up his Ipad, walked over to my mother, sat on her lap, wrapped her arm around him like Dumbo's mother's trunk, and began to rock back and forth.
I looked at her, and she looked up at me, eyes were filled with tears. We both lost it. I think we scared Christian because he probably didn't think his action would elicit the huge response he got. We cried and surrounded him with hugs, humming along to the song.
At that moment we immediately forgot about his dislike of being squeezed too tight and singing along with the iPad, but tough-shit-kid, you don't give us many of these - we're going to need a minute.
Though these moments are few and far between, they are without question the best experiences - experiences that start with a .6-second window into the matrix, experiences that everyone can have, given the right tools and a better-shared understanding of their child.
We at ACN strive to embody the values of both the Birth Circle and The Dumbo story in our brand. We want your experience to be one of empowerment as you go out into the world of raising an autistic child. We aim to help you create BIG Futures for your children in whatever capacity possible. We are beside you to guide you.