Matt has moderate / severe autism, is mostly non-verbal, and is awesomely independent!
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Meet the Author:
I was asked once, "How does one person change the world?" My reply was, "One story at a time".
The diagnosis of autism was a rare one back in 1988 when Matt was diagnosed - only 1:10,000 affected. Then the numbers grew.....and people began to notice. I went from trying to explain autism to those Matt met each year, to really promoting autism awareness through my stories and speaking engagements using this website.
Now most people have heard of autism, and this website is now global, with 126 countries and over 6 million fans.
Of course, we still have a long way to go to make this world a better place for those on the spectrum. So the stories will keep coming, and the world will keep changing – one story at a time.
Thank you for helping me promote autism awareness, for your willingness to listen, and to open your heart and mind to the mysterious puzzle that is autism.
Honored on August 11, 2011".
Here's a story to warm the heart....it certainly warmed mine just writing it.
First - a bit of background. I wrote the story a while back about Matt meeting his
neighbor, Allen. The short version: Allen is very sociable and waved and said "Hi" to Matt
at every opportunity after he moved into the apartment complex last summer, but
Matt was having none of it for months, and totally ignored him and his
friendly advances. Allen was "too" sociable, I think, and Matt is
unaccustomed to such bold moves.
Then one day, I walked Matt over to the neighbors apartment, knocked on the door and introduced myself and Matt. I made a very short description of the communication difficulties and of his autism and then jumped into formal introductions. Matt shook his hand.... and now Matt knew him well enough to return the "Hi" and wave.
That was 8 months ago..... now waving is second nature, saying "hi" is routine..... and that leads us to the events of this past Wednesday.
Today when I picked up
Matt, Allen ran out his door to tell me that Matt had helped one of the
residents and came to him for help when an elderly woman stumbled on the
curb, fell and broke her leg - right there in the parking lot, and only
20 feet from Matt's apartment...
I stood there blank-faced while he described the crisis ... it wasn't registering....what?
So he told me the whole story again ... and I smiled from ear to ear as tears welled up in my eyes..... all I could think was OMG!
When Matt came to the door we hugged and then I asked Matt to tell me the whole story of what happened .... "Oh... Okay." as if it were really no big deal.
So here it is....
Wednesday, at 3pm, Matt went to his mailbox to get the mail. One of the elderly ladies that live in his complex fell and was sitting on the curb, crying for help. It was windy and freezing cold and she couldn't move - she had broken her leg and her lower arm. She was bleeding....
Matt heard her cries and went to help her. He told her "Stay put, don't get up, and I will get help!" Matt then went to Allen's apartment and knocked on the door (interject a hundred OMG! right here!). He told him there was a woman hurt and needing his help. Allen listened to Matt and went with him. He saw how bad she was hurt and went back to his apartment to call the ambulance and to get bandages. He came back quickly and held pressure on her deepest wound. Matt had stayed with her until Allen returned. Did I tell you she was bleeding? (And Matt stayed with her!)
I asked Matt if it were a lot of blood (Allen had to hold pressure after all) and Matt said - "a little blood". Today, even after all the snow and rain, there's still a big stain there..... soooooooo, hmmmmmm...... what qualifies as a "little"?
I asked Matt what happened next?
He said his friend was "doing his thing" and taking care of it, and because it was way too cold to stay outside, he went back to his apartment and watched the rest from his front window - until the ambulance came and took her to the hospital.
Matt calls me every night... and NEVER said a word about his heroic deed... not a single word. And every night I ask, "Anything new to tell me?" And yet....
Just trying to write this is making me cry..... why?
Because this was Matt..... MY Matt! The one who rarely speaks, who waves to his neighbors and can greet them with a "Hi" but only after an introduction - people have to pass the test first before words can be uttered.... this is Matt, my Matt, who would much rather move along, stay away from people in general, and never, ever, shows strangers the huge heart he possesses. This is my Matt.... my "moderate / Severely Autistic" Matt.
And yes, I see his heart every day... I see his compassion... but even I never would've believed Matt could find the courage to speak to a stranger, under difficult, stressful circumstances, and render a perfect-stranger aid - and there was blood, did I tell you there was blood? Matt is not one to be voluntarily be around blood.
Those tears I keep shedding on and off as I think about my son
today are of course, tears of pride and joy, but also of miraculous disbelief too
... because my mind is trying to put a new version of my son in my head.... a
version of a speaking young man who instead of anxiety rendering him
mute, finds the perfect words, does the perfect thing (by going to get
his neighbor, Allen....), a son who is so very much more capable then
even I ever dreamed he could be - and I REALLY pushed all those dream
limits over the last 31 years.... I maxed them out!
Or so I thought......until today.....
My son Matt was a hero for a perfect stranger. Sounds wonderful and amazing, right?
My perfect son, Matt. Absolutely perfect. Always teaching me a thing or two about possibility, dreams, and inner strength.
Thank you Matt.... keep pushing those limits - break them all....
Because Nothing.... NOTHING ... is impossible.
Liz Becker meets Temple Grandin!
Autism Act of Love Challenge
Matt and I took the challenge. I went first so he knew what to do. He didn't like the idea of eyes-closed to draw, so I leaned in as he was drawing and told him it was okay to open his eyes if he wanted to.... but he didn't.