I am 7 years old. I really love my family. They are very nice to me. And kind. They share their feelings with me. I like to sometimes check if everything is okay with my family and I like being kind to them. I like doing races, like a running race, like a straight line. I am good at winning in a race. When I lose a race I feel like shaking the winner’s hand and I say ‘Congratulations!’ or ‘Good work!’. My favourite movie is Cars 2. When I grow up I want to be a race car driver. My race car will be red with white stripes in the middle and sides. I might be able to be number 95 like Lightning McQueen!
Autism means that my brain works differently to my Mum’s. Even differently to Rosie. And Max. And Dad. I’m not talking about whose brain is the best. Autism is awesome. My Mum says I’m her superhero because days can be hard for people with Autism. Because sometimes I can’t concentrate when there’s too many distractions. Like lots of loud noises. Or if I feel so many heat on me, if it’s hot outside and I can’t get away from it. Or if rain falls on me. I’m afraid of rain. (Gus wants a laughing face here – he thinks it’s funny that he’s afraid of rain). I’m afraid of getting soaked because it will take too long to get dry again.
One time I thought I couldn’t make a honey sandwich myself because I thought I would accidentally get honey & butter splattered all over me. Then I would be sad because I would feel like I was stuck in quicksand, because honey is sticky. I really love honey sandwiches. I tried to make one one day. I put the step chair in front of the bench. It was medium-hard to spread the butter, and I nearly gave up. But I didn’t give up. I even cut my sandwich a different way than normal. I really liked my honey sandwich that I made myself.
Chris Varney is in my personal ‘I CAN Network’ because he is amazing! He makes me feel like I can do anything! My Mum & Dad are too, because they won’t ever be cross with me if I try my best. My teacher too – she made me some ‘I CAN’ markers at school. When I try hard for a long time, like concentrating on something, then I get to colour in my Lightning McQueen book she made for me with my I CAN markers.
I feel included at my school because I’m part of the school. I think people look out for me at school. They make sure I’m okay. Like the time a band came to school, my teacher got my headphones. But it was still too loud so I played with Principal Ryan in her office. We played with kinetic sand. We laughed when Ms Ryan’s ball rolled over my minefield, fell towards the floor and smashed into so many pieces. KABOOM!!!! I felt overjoyed that I didn’t have to watch the noisy band. I feel like they care about me at my school.
Kristie, Gus’s Mum.
Gusy knew the alphabet and the phonics when he was 18 months old, so we knew his brain was far from ‘typical’. After his diagnosis, we decided to not ‘hide’ his Autism, to just let it be part of who he is… he has blonde hair, he has blue eyes, he has Autism. He’s never known any different.
I actually think that Gus doesn’t feel particularly unique. His school friends all know he’s Autistic, they’ve discussed it in class, read the My Friend With Autism book, and asked me questions. But they don’t really care. He’s just Gusy to them. They enjoy his company, and they do all look out for him in a special way – but I don’t think he sees that as unique. It’s just the way it is.
There came a time when we wanted to expose Gus more to the ‘Autistic world’ – he knew he had it, but who else was he on this planet with? As the universe would have it, I basically tripped over a YouTube clip of Chris Varney’s TEDx talk. I showed it to Gus, thinking he’d watch it for a couple of minutes and then lose interest. He watched the whole talk 3 times through, then asked to meet Chris! We were lucky enough to have this happen and a special friendship has struck up.
So I guess being exposed to the I CAN Network has given Gus real life role models. People who are diverse, accomplished, brilliant and strong – and who are all on the Spectrum just like he is!
Gus is extremely lucky to be starting off his life in a world where the I CAN Network exists. His grandparents, his school, his teachers, his siblings… they all know the ‘I CAN’ philosophy. He’s surrounded by it, and once again – he’ll know no different.