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Author, musician to speak at Ascendigo Blue fundraiser for local autism services

 People sit in a circle on colorful fabric outside on a summer day.
Courtesy of Ascendigo Autism Services
People sit in a circle on colorful fabric outside while participating in summer programming offered by Ascendigo Autism Services. The Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit offers seasonal camps and year-round services and resources for people with autism.

Writer and musician Allison Moorer begins her second memoir with a quote on hope, from the Irish poet Seamus Heaney: “Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.”

It’s a fitting epigraph for “I Dream He Talks to Me,” which takes a realistic view of the challenges and joys she has experienced while parenting her son who has autism.

“I don't think you want to be unrealistic about outcomes of anything in life,” Moorer said in a phone interview on Monday. “But I do think that you have a choice about how you look at it, and … I don't think we do anything if we don't have hope. If we don’t have hope, then why try?”

Moorer will be speaking at Saturday’s gala fundraiser for the Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit Ascendigo Autism Services as a “special guest” alongside her husband, Grammy-nominated country and Americana artist Hayes Carll. Moorer said she also plans to join her husband in part of his scheduled performance at the event.

The “Ascendigo Blue” gala raises funds and awareness for Ascendigo, which offers summer and winter adventure camps as well as year-round support services and resources for people with autism.

Moorer’s son John Henry attended one of Ascendigo’s camps last summer. She had connected with the organization as a parent interested in enrolling her son in a program before they reached out to her as an author to discuss her book, Moorer said.

Moorer said she wrote the memoir “in real time,” recounting her experiences in a series of essays that detail challenges that “neurotypical people do not have to face” and messages that will resonate with all parents.

“At the end of the day, every parent is concerned about their child's trajectory and welfare, and how they're going to do in the world when they have to do it on their own,” Moorer said during the interview. “So what I came to ultimately, and my son was 10 when I finished writing this book, was that we are all as O.K. as we decide we want to be, and we are able to find positives in our experiences if we want to.”

She also wants to share that hopeful message with other families navigating the landscape of autism.

“I try to look at my experience with my son as a gift, and something that is allowing me to see the world in a way that I never would have otherwise,” Moorer said in the interview. “My son is my favorite person, my favorite spirit to be around, and I'm incredibly proud of him and what he's been able to accomplish with his challenges. And what I feel like is that we'll find a way, and if I can provide any hope to anyone else, to view the world that way for one minute, even 30 seconds, my job is done. “

Tickets and more information about the fundraiser are available through ascendigo.org.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.