In His Own Words
Today’s blog is written by my son Matt – no, really! I found one of his school projects and in reading it over thought, “Wow – this is Matt in his own words”. I thought I would share this with you. The descriptions of the pages are mine, but the words are Matt’s words. These words tell more about how he felt about himself and the world around him better than I. I left in the misspellings and put all the commas and dashes in just as he has them. So here goes . . .
In May of 2001 Matt was required to do a project – on himself. The cover page is full of drawings of the things he liked most that year; the Titanic, Trains (of course), the Sears Tower (tallest building), the atomic bomb explosion (WWII history) and Johnny Bravo (a cartoon character).
His table of contents lists the categories he had to cover;
1. a photograph of himself – which was a picture of him and me at the river
2. vital data
3. My people
4. My heritage
5. Who am I?
6. What I do
7. My Favorite things
9. Steps to change
Date of birth: I was born Jan 14, 1986. Age: My age is 15. General Description of Myself: Height: 5 foot 9 inches tall, weight: 160 pounds, hair – short + brown, eyes – bule, nice, gentle, - man, I’m pretty. Little feet, little muscles but very smart.
The people that are important to me are my brothers, Chris + Jacob, and my sister, Sarah. My Mama and Papa are also important. My Ms. Austin is special and my best friend Kevin. Chris is graduating. Jacob loves magic cards. Kevin is in my class! Ms. Austin is sweet! Sarah will be driving! My daddy is nuts! My Mama is crazy! (these last 2 were meant to be funny – but hmmm, it could be true .. .)
This is a family tree that I helped him draw with all the members from both sides of our Brady-Bunch type marriage.
Who am I? (Matt was suppose to describe how he saw his personality)
Matthew is an 8th grader. I don’t like homework, But I like high school and my friends. I am autistic. I see and do things different than other people. I work slower than most people. I like to draw anything. Drawing helps me remember facts. I can’t look at people because I feel uncomfortable. I don’t make friends easy. Don’t like change + food texturies bother me. Mama takes care of me at home, Ms.Austin helps me out at school.
What I do (Areas where Matt feels good about who he is)
I like to play sports like golf and soccer.I was at Special Olympics for 5 years. I won 13 blue ribbons. I did 3 science projects and won 2 grand prize, and 1 red ribbon. I like Titanic movie and work on a model the ship. I best thing is drawing. I like to draw cartoon characters. My favorite place is the Field Museum of Natural History because I like dinosaurs especially T-rex, Brachiosaurus.
My Favorite Things
Music – I like to sing with my favorite songs.
Motherless Child – by Eric Clapton
I Don’t Want Miss a Thing – by Aerosmith
Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead
I’m Eighteen – Creed
T.V. – these shows make me laugh
Three Stooges – I like Curly the best, he’s funny + makes funny noises
Cartoon Cartoon Fridays – Ed, Edd,n’ Eddie, Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Lab, Cow and Chicken, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Mike, Lu and Og and I am Weasel
Movies – I like comedies because they make me laugh
Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, Wayne’s World, Blues Brothers 2000, + Mousehunt.
I like to watch all kinds of sports. I want my teams to win.
Baseball, Basketball, Golf, Hockey,Soccer, Bowling, and Tennis
Hobbies: I like the sethings because they make me feel good. Things I like to do -
Drawing, playing games, listen to the music, ride my scooter, watching TV, eat at McDonald’s
( Matt was to describe how he would like to changewithin 5 years)
I would like to graduate with good grades and lots of friends. My goal is to go to Radford University. I need to work on homeworkand big labs. I want to college by myself. I want to learn to drive and be a man. I want to be an artist after my finish college. I want to be a cartoonist. I need a good job to make money to support myself + so my mom won’t worry about me.
Steps for Change
I need to feel comfortable with people so I can study at Radford University. I need to talk to people + make new friends. I need to more active in school +community. I need to slow down + make eye contact. I need to learn to talk to people.
. ( 20 yearslater and Matt is to write a letter to describe what his life is like)
I graduated from high school with you. I’ll so graduate Radford University. I got my degree in Art + Science. I have a new art studio in Wytheville. I like drawing cartoons all day and getting pay. I sell my art in Chicago. I like to travel by car. It’s a pretty trip my family in Rockford, Ill. I’m doing so well and business. I plan to make my studio bigger. If you need help let me know. You’re my best friend. Matt
Well, that’s it. If you read between the lines (as I do) then you can see a self awareness emerging in Matt. He was grappling with some very tough emotions. He wanted so much to be like others his age. Matt was 15 years old. He felt different and alone. He had dreams and set goals. As I read his words my heart ached all over again. Oh, if I could have only made it just a bit easier for him . . .
These words, Matt’s words, were written 9 years ago when Matt was still a child. Things have changed quit a bit since then. Matt did make good grades. He has eye-contact now. He speaks more easily with others and he likes meeting new people. His choice in colleges has changed over the years from RU to Virginia Tech. He knows how to drive a car (he just doesn’t drive). He goes to college (it’s just part-time). So even if he hasn’t conquered all those goals – yet – we know he will one day.
We are working on those dreams, but we move slow in the world of autism.
Eventually, we’ll get him to where he needs to be.