When I think about why I like to help others, I really cannot think of a single defining moment when it all started. It just happened. I really love to volunteer my time to help others, or just teach people new things. It makes me feel good about myself and is meant to make someone else feel good, too.
In the fall, I will be going into 9th grade. I am really excited about going into high school. I think about how far I have come. I am autistic. When I was diagnosed, they told my parents all kinds of things that I would not be able to do. My parents didn’t believe the doctors and refused to treat my any differently than my brother. It was rough at first, and to be honest, it still can be tough. But my parents never let me be the “autistic kid.” Since that was the case, they made sure I did things to help out.
One of the first things I became involved in was the Autism Walk. For the past several years, I have raised funds and promoted autism awareness in hopes to find a cure. I want others to realize that people with autism can be anything they want to be. I want parents of those with autism to know the same thing. In order to earn money to donate, I sell candy bars around the area. I also have a team called Team Turzi. Last year was the best year for us. We have grown a lot and had 30 people on our team.
I am a Boy Scout and just earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It involved a school that is dedicated to kids who have autism. I love being in the Scouts for lots of reasons. One reason is the friends I have made. It can be difficult for me to make friends being autistic, but the other boys in the troop have been great. But my favorite reason for being a Scout is all the volunteering activities I can become involved in. We do community projects such as cleaning up parks, camp areas, and places around town.
My newest volunteering opportunity happened last year. I applied to be a zoo volunteer at Oglebay. It was a tough process. I had to fill out an application, get references, have an interview, and make a presentation. Out of 100 kids that applied, 40 were chosen and I was one of them. I went through eight weeks of training and passed the test. Now I volunteer at the zoo. I was there for Halloween, and I loved working with the kangaroos. I even volunteered where I had to educate people who came to the ostrich and zebra area. I was nervous about that because I sometimes have a hard time talking to others, but it turned out to be fine and I did a good job.
I continue to volunteer because I truly love it, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be me if I did not volunteer. It is who I am. I will be starting my first job this summer at Wheeling Park. I am looking forward to earning money and doing a good job.
This reason I am writing this article is to let everyone know I am autistic and am capable of doing things that no one thought I could do — and your kids are too.
Although I may be higher on the spectrum, we are all able to do things that others believe we can’t. My parents tell me that I was given the gift of autism, and I am here to tell you it is a gift. Others will learn from every one of us, no matter where we fall on the spectrum. So, please look at your children who are autistic and remember we are gifts from God.
This article was featured in Issue 52 – Celebrating the Voices of Autism