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Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and we’re asking people with autism and their loved ones to tell the world what it’s like.
We’ve gotten dozens of moving and personal stories from children and adults on the autism spectrum -- as well as their siblings and parents. Some families have seen their loved ones overcome the odds to great success, while others worry about what the future holds and say there's nothing positive about the diagnosis.
Cheri A. Smith’s 7-year-old son, Bobby, loves to jump, swim, play in the dirt and line up blocks. But, he “cannot tell us if something hurts, why he is upset or happy, where he would like to go, what happened at school today, what he would like to do for his birthday, what he would like Santa to bring him for Christmas or just basic things that we all take for granted.”
As a toddler, Anthony lost all his speech and regressed into autism "almost overnight," says mom Denna Rivera. "We were unable to hug or caress him in any way without him screaming like it hurt." But he has progressed “into a sweet 13-year-old with a zest for learning.”
Karen Michaela Willis, 20, was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when she was 4 years old. She represented Alabama in the 2010 Special Olympics USA National Games in Lincoln, Nebraska, in swimming. She is also looking for employment. "I know that my future is bright even though I'll still have challenges to face, but it's not going to stop me from living my life."
Multi-platinum record producer Michael Buckholtz was 43 when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He went on to start the Aid for Autistic Children Foundation, to reduce the financial burden for families and caretakers. He was also homeless for a time.
“We, autistic adults, are invisible to many, unless we're savant or become billionaires because of inventing some cutting edge technology or science. We come in all flavors and levels of intellect,” he said. “We desire the same opportunity, as anyone: the pursuit of happiness and stable employment.”
You can see all the stories that have come in here and if you are affected by autism, we hope you will share your perspective with the world.
Growing up with Aspergers and parents who never aired dirty laundry was excruciating. I felt surgically sliced out from a family who sent me to a boarding school and then took a family vacation to Hawaii without me. It's difficult to always be perceived as aloof or arrogant when I can't relate socially. Now, as a parent, I have a deeper pain than I could have ever imagined - watching my autistic son going through what I went through. But this time, he's not alone. Both of his parents are tough advocates who refuse to allow the bullying, indifference and cruelty of adults and children who have not been taught to accept those who are different, because we are all different. I don't know why kids torture and taunt, but it needs to stop. Posters on a school wall saying No to Bullying don't cut it. Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk and don't talk about your Zero Tolerance policies - Put them into Practice! Your autistic student's Autistic parents are your biggest assets. I was finally told I was diagnosed with Autism when I was six by my mother who told me when I was 24. Uncaring parents are the ones always searching for the cure rather than raising the beautiful child you have and accepting them for who they are. Our job is tough, nobody said it wouldn't be, but our kids will be so much better for it.
I'm suprised that my story didn't make it.I happen to be friends on facebook with Karen Willis & she is a really nice girl who has inspired me in many ways since we first met online almost one year ago.
@MichaelZell We're still going through the submissions -- you probably saw that we got tons! We really appreciate you taking the time to record a video.
Thanks,I'm not sure if I can record one using my laptop's webcam but I'll see what I can do.The deadline for video submissions is on the 7th right?
I wish you wouldn't have linked that guy's video. It's like the I Am Autism video, only everyone seems to agree with him. :I It's one thing to say that there are problems with autism, because for many there are, and it's one thing to say that it's hard, but I don't think that parent knows how much kids with autism understand. A lot of them understand language, and can hear their parents' complaints.
What really bothers me is that he seems to have gotten more shares than the one about Bobby. :(
HEY PEOPLE OUGHT SHOW COPASSION FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS AND SHOW A LOT MORE RESPECT AND DON'T ROB THESE PEOPLE OF THEIR PERSONAL DIGNITY AND THIS COULD HAVE BEEN YOU.