Written by Kelly Barrett
Ausometistic became a word for us when I started writing our story. My title page started with “My awesome, fantastic journey with my awesome, autistic child.” The words all seemed to blend together on the page and in my mind as I read that line over and over. Our simple motivation is to encourage those with unique challenges of their own. I am a single mom with MS, and learned that my son had Asperger’s when he was four. My dreams for him took a drastic turn from imagining him as a brain surgeon, an astronaut, or an amazing chef, to a simple hope for him to have friends. After many varying medications, and therapies that had no effect, our doctor suggested the gluten free – dairy free diet. The diet made an obvious difference for Will. He made major improvements, and many symptoms that are indicative of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were much less noticeable; some even vanished altogether.
Twelve years later, I watched Will stand up in front of a captivated audience and deliver a speech that was not only inspiring and motivational, but entertaining and emotional. I was apprehensive before he stood in front of this crowd because he had never given a speech before. My mood quickly changed from nervousness to amazement as I listened to my 15 year old son transform into a confident young man with a clear, concise message; disability does not equal failure. Every person has a unique gift, but the gift is lost on someone who isn’t willing to set goals and work hard to achieve them. Anyone can invent excuses and trade a bad attitude for complacency. Will has chosen to search for his talent and to expound on it. His goal is to help parents and children understand that things are not hopeless, and they are not helpless. They have choices, and it is imperative to make the ones that are right for each individual.
At seventeen, Will is a junior in high school, has played on his high school’s golf team, is a member of the Key Club, DECA, has written for the school newspaper, and is in Honors Chinese. He is also learning American Sign Language. He is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, but would rather be driving his truck, and hanging out with his friends than studying. As any mom, I am extremely proud of my child, but considering the challenges he has faced and overcome, I am anxious to show and tell the world that an excuse is a bigger problem than a disability.