Our Program on Tuesday, February 6, 2024 was author Mark Hirschfeld describing his children’s book “Dots and Dashes – Duane Learns the Magic of Morse Code.”  Mark is a personal friend and golfing partner with Nick who recommended that we have him as a speaker and he was outstanding!  His book, “Dots and Dashes – Duane Learns the Magic of Morse Code” is the heartwarming story of a young man who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and found great joy and friendships all across the globe by learning Morse code. From a farm in rural Iowa Duane Wyatt was able to talk with people all over the world-- from astronauts to spies to members of the U.S. Navy.  He got interested as a boy while attending a county fair in Nebraska and had excellent memory skills and learned and used Morse Code throughout his life.  Duane attended college and became a rural Veterinarian.                
Mark describes his book and relationship with Duane in saying, “John Lennon once said that “life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans”. I certainly didn’t intend to write a children’s book, but life had other plans! I met Duane Wyatt in February, and it became clear that more folks needed to learn about his remarkable journey. It is a story about a person on the autism spectrum who has lived an interesting, meaningful, joyful life. He’s communicated with spies and astronauts and the real Dr. Patch Adams! And he’s given back, volunteering at schools and hospitals, sharing his passion for Morse code with thousands. This book is a way to continue his mission.”                                                       
Professionals have found the book helpful tool in having meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion about individuals with disabilities with students, parents and the general public. Duane and Mark decided it would be appropriate to have his author proceeds go to the Autism Society of Minnesota that does remarkable work with folks like Duane (and his son Jacob) who are on the autism spectrum.” People with autism face many difficulties due to social, academic and psychological manifestations along with their family.  It was a wonderful presentation and had many questions in the Q&A.