Jeremy Sicile-Kira, Adult with Autism: "It takes a community to assist those with autism"
Posted Apr 23 2010 12:00am
We are pleased to share this opinion piece from Jeremy Sicile-Kira, whose Mom, Chantal Sicile-Kira is a writer and autism advocate (and a dear friend of ours.) Isn't it wonderful to hear from a person with autism who can represent those with more severe challenges than are usually represented, and who is not able to use traditional speech? It is our honor to showcase Jeremy's talents as a writer. We hope the autism community will embrace and celebrate his success. The original piece ran in the North County Times HERE. Please go leave a comment encouraging Jeremy to continue his writing. The intro is from Chantal:
Our pledge to spread awareness during Autism Awareness month is going strong in our house. Yesterday, Jeremy Sicile-Kira had his first Op-Ed published in The North County Times. This morning, I was a guest for one hour on "The State of Things" on North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC. (I had to disagree with another guest about possible connection between autism and vaccines, and about the fact that there is more autism and not just better diagnosing. All in a day's work (HERE) -audio will not be available till a few hours after the show). Saturday I am presenting in North Carolina. Next Monday, April 26 I organized a book signing / fundraising event (latest book 41 Things to Know About Autism at a local bar/restaurant The Poseidon in Del Mar between 4-7 and funds will go to ARI and TACA, thanks to the owner of the restaurant and to the owner of the Bookworks. For more information go to my website and shoot me an email.
FORUM: It takes a community to assist those with autism
By JEREMY SICILE-KIRA -- TPHS student | Posted: April 20, 2010 12:01 am | 1 Comment | Print
I am 21 and I have autism. Recently, the state Senate passed a resolution making April Autism Awareness Month in California. The reason the resolution passed is because there are a lot more children diagnosed now than ever before (one in 110, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Autism is a label that is shared by people who have different abilities and challenges.
People in the autism community often say, "When you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." To be diagnosed with autism, you need to have challenges in the areas of communication and social relationships, and intense attachments to objects or topics.
I have been very lucky, and I would like to give back to my community by telling people what having autism is like. There are many people on the autism spectrum in our community, so it is important to realize what your fellow citizens have struggles with every day.
My greatest challenge is communication. I cannot talk very much. I have found a way to communicate, and this has changed my life. In high school, I learned to point with one finger to a letterboard or keyboard to do my homework and to communicate.
It has not always been easy. My mom never gave up on me. Once my mom found a way to teach me, the high school teachers were really great about trying the method and were successful. In June, I am graduating from Torrey Pines High School with a full academic diploma. I have a 3.5 GPA. I am concurrently taking a community college class. I am lucky to live in such a great community.
I behave strangely because of my sensory processing difficulties.
Because of sensory processing issues, my eyes and my ears do not process the things I am looking at and listening to. Like Helen Keller, the deaf and blind girl, I am stuck in a body that makes it hard to see and hear. Helen Keller had a teacher, Anne Sullivan, who took her out of isolation and taught her appropriate behaviors ("The Miracle Worker").
My first great teacher was my mom, and then she found others to help me. I thank the San Dieguito Unified High School District for all it has done to help me. When Helen Keller grew up, she graduated from college, became an author and an advocate for people with disabilities. I hope to follow in her footsteps.
Like most people my age, I would like to be in love, have my own place to live and earn money. Nicely there are people working on autism regional task forces trying to find ways to help us become productive adults.
Our families can't do it alone. Truly, it takes a community.
JEREMY SICILE-KIRA writes a column for the TPHS Falconer and presents at conferences. His mother, Chantal Sicile-Kira, is the co-chairperson of the South Counties Autism Regional Taskforce to the California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders, representing San Diego, Imperial and Inland counties.