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7-year-old with autism spreads awareness, laughs with joke book

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Stalen Venator was just 21 months old when diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

He’s now a seven-year-old in Oromocto whose favorite hobby is to make others laugh.

Stalen, who doesn’t speak, has used an iPad to communicate his jokes on Facebook every week for the last two years.

Recently, he and his mother published a joke book, titled Jokes are for everyoneto spread awareness about his condition and share his favorite puns.

“My hope is that people will realize that a life lived differently is not a life less lived,” said Chrystal Venator.

“Even though Stalen has autism and uses a device to communicate, and has medical interventions, he can do anything.… We have dreams and hopes for him and he’s just an amazing person.”

Stalen uses an IPad to tell his jokes and communicate with others. (Stalen’s Way/Facebook)

Venator said Stalen has always been a “trickster,” playing practical jokes on his family members and therapists.

When she and her husband bought Stalen an iPad, they decided to incorporate humor into the technology, along with basic uses, including spelling words and saying his name aloud.

“We found it was a great way to connect him with other people,” said Venator, “He’s becoming more proficient each day.”

Venator started a blog, called Stalen’s Way, to share the family’s journey with Stalen as his life progressed with autism, and the health issues that came alongside the condition.

Chrystal Venator says she hopes her blog and their published book will show that a life lived differently is not a life less lived. (Stalen’s Way/Facebook)

“I was writing as my way of coping and telling his story and it just kind of took on a life of its own.”

The blog has attracted people from around the world, including Australia, the UK and the US

Followers now send Stalen jokes to tell. They tune in each week to see him tell them.

“He practices all week so he can hit the punchline perfectly, so that’s become his weekly thing — Stalen’s jokes of the week,” said Venator.

A mom and her young son spread awareness about autism with a joke book

Chrystal Venator’s son Stalen loves to tell jokes. The non-speaking seven-year-old has found a creative way to share laughs and educate others about his condition.

Venator said that’s what prompted her to help him publish a book filled with his finest jokes. “I did it as a project to empower him.”

Stalen helped with every aspect of the book’s development, from choosing the color of the book and the art graphics inside.

“We have support from all over the world and that definitely helps fill our tanks with hope,” said Venator.

She got Jokes are for everyone is now in a library in Texas, and other children with autism have followed his lead, telling his jokes online using a similar technology.

How it began

Chrystal Venator said concerns about his condition began when Stalen was 13 months old.

“He had a lot of first words, but then one day it was just like he went completely silent.”

Venator said people had a hard time connecting with Stalen. If he was in a room with other people, he would feel alone.

Chrystal Venator says Stalen helped with every aspect of the book, from choosing the color to picking out graphics. (Stalen’s Way/Facebook)

He started showing signs of frustration with the inability to speak.

“There were things he wanted to tell us, there were things that he wanted and he didn’t have a way to communicate that,” Venator said.

Venator said Stalen quickly became intrigued by technology, seeing his parents use their cellphones. That sparked an idea to use a device to help him communicate.

“We gave it a try and it just kind of took off,” said Venator.

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