This guest post is by Conor Miranda who wrote this speech to read at his elementary school for Autism Awareness Week in April, 2018. Erin Garland, the inclusion specialist at Conor’s school, hosts this autism awareness week every other year in hopes of educating the students/faculty. Conor who has autism is headed to middle school next month and has been invited back to the school in April 2020 to raise even more awareness. Conor read to his classmates…

Hello, my name is Conor. I am 10 years old and in the fourth grade. I also have autism. Some things that I’m good at are running, math, and memorizing facts about things I like a lot. I can double numbers to the millions very quickly, and I know every president. Sometimes, I combine these skills and I try to stump my parents by doing what I call presidential math. For example, I would ask “What is Barack Obama minus Zachary Taylor?” Barack Obama was the 44th president and Zachary Taylor was the 12th president. So, the answer would be Franklin Roosevelt who was the 32nd president.

Some things that are challenging for me are writing and drawing, losing at games, and occasionally having big reactions to what you would think are small problems. When I have these reactions, sometimes I say things I don’t mean. I’m lucky to have a lot of friends who know this, and they forgive me because they know I’m just having a hard time in that moment. Some ways that you can be a good friend are to include me in games, and be patient with me when I’m upset. Sometimes when I’m upset, I like to be by myself so I can calm down.

Something you may not know is that autism affects 1 in 59 kids. That’s a lot. However, everyone with autism is different so you have to treat them all as individuals, just like you do with anyone else. Some people with autism are unable to speak. Although I am able to speak, sometimes it’s hard for me to understand exactly what people are asking of me. Also, like many people with autism, I may not look at you when you talk to me. If I am making direct eye contact with you, sometimes my brain is focused on what I’m looking at, and not what I’m hearing. If I’m not looking at you, it does not mean I’m not listening.

I hope you learned something about autism today and thank you for your time.

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Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.

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