MTV’s mini-documentary series “True Life: I Have Autism” introduced viewers to Jeremy, Jonathan and Elijah, three high school students whose autism is old hat to themselves and their families. It was 2007, and the research suggested that 1:150 children were on the spectrum. The research now suggests that 1:50 individuals are diagnosed. The 2013 series “World of Jenks” chronicled the life of one of those individuals, Chad a 21-year-old with autism. The series revealed a raw, intimate look at the daily struggles and victories, as well as what it means to be a young person today.
I witness the daily challenges and success of living with autism through my 19-year-old son. I often try to see life through Ryan’s eyes and include him in my blog posts, but today, Ryan shares his view on living with autism in a brief interview with Lisa.
Dressed in his khaki’s, a green polo shirt and red windbreaker the tall slender young man sat quietly on a bench, relaxed, and enjoying a much earned cold soda. I met Ryan on his break and he agreed to let me join him on the bench. He was happy to tell me about himself.
How’s your day today? “Good. Calm. Happy.”
Tell me about your jobs. “I like them.”
What kinds of jobs do you do? “I pick up trash, pull weeds, water plants, rake leaves and vacuum, but my favorite is to mow the lawn.”
Why do you like working and doing jobs? “It makes me feel good.”
Tell me about your favorite activities. “I like fun stuff.”
What is fun stuff to you? “Going to Washington D.C., Florida, Splash Lagoon, WaterWorld, golfing, the movies and LECOM. I like to swim at LECOM.”
Who are your friends? “Ryan Flynn, Maureen, Dick ….and Brian Cawly, Bryant Kimball, Lance and Diane.”
Do you have autism? “Yes, I have autism”
How do you feel about that? “Happy…It makes me feel good”
What’s the best thing about you Ryan? “I’m a great kid. I help people. I’m a nice person.”
The autism diagnosis changed the course of my dreams for Ryan. I have learned much about autism and being Ryan’s mom. I practice new approaches, sigh as challenges resurface, and laugh often. When Ryan was diagnosed with autism he was 1:500. Today he is 1:50, but to me, he always will be one. One great kid.