Meet Sean Mulligan
Well, this is his "insides" - Click on it to make it bigger and you will see a pretty accurate representation of what goes on inside our bodies.
Sean is one of the 1 in 88 people who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism is a sensory disability that can affect everything a person sees, hears, touches, tastes, smells and feels, including their motor planning and sense of balance.
While a large number of people with autism will be non-verbal, it does not necessarily affect intelligence so you should never presume that a person with autism does not understand you.
What you can presume is that whatever level of competence they are able to demonstrate, they probably had to work twice as hard as anyone else to achieve it. Holding a pencil, walking in a straight line, keeping their arms still when they are happy, even looking you in the eye can take a tremendous effort and life can be quite stressful, however "normal" they may be trying to appear.
However, what I like most about autism is how the "unders and overs" of sensory perceptions can lead to a unique way of looking at the world. My own son makes me laugh everyday as he mashes together 2 or 3 films based on the character roles the actors may have taken at different times.
For instance, he is convinced that the actor Mandy Patinkin does the voice of the seagulls in "Finding Nemo" Why? because Mandy Patinkin played the character Huxley in "Elmo in Grouchland"
Huxley has a problem with sharing and at one point he sings a song called "Make it Mine"
I don't think enough people really "get" how interesting and remarkable people with autism can be. So this month, which the United Nations General Assembly has designated to "raise awareness of autism on all levels in Society" (according to Wikipedia) I am going to run a few posts about exceptional people like Sean.
His proud mother Ann Mulligan can introduce him:
"Sean is 10, he will be 11 in August. He is our eldest child, we have an 8 year old girl Sarah.
Sean was diagnosed with PDDNOS or Atypical autism at three and a half years old. We knew absolutely nothing about autism then in Feb 2006 and were obviously devastated.
Fast forward to 2013 and Sean is the funniest, most clever, kind hearted, intelligent little man and continues to amaze us on a daily basis. Just yesterday telling me "jeesh, take a break, take a kit kat" when I was annoyed with them over something trivial!! This from the boy who didn't call me Mammy til he was nearly 4.
From the boy they said ('they' being the clinic where we went for a diagnosis) was only going to be able for special needs schooling. I have high hopes for Sean and really feel so lucky to have him in our lives.
He still has very difficult days, days when the world is just a bit much for him but he is able to verbalise this and has through many hours of play therapy learned how to turn the dial down on his emotional reactions to situations. He is much less likely to have a major melt down now.
He is more confident and happy around those he knows well and still finds social interactions difficult such as talking to a waiter or shop assistant very hard but these too are getting a bit better. He can be quite stiff and formal around his peers too and sometimes I wish they could see the really cool version we get to see at home!!
But hey, he has come such a long way and he is by no means finished yet."
This, as you can see is what would happen if Angry Birds made eating fruit and vegetables more interesting!
If you know someone like Sean or you just want to share something fabulous about someone with autism, send me an email with a photo and a few words and I will feature it. Because I think everyone deserves to know more about autism, so they can be more aware, accepting and amazed by how great they can be.