Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often find it hard to fit in with the rest of the kids at school simply because the others are oblivious to the daily challenges that come with this neurodevelopmental disorder. So, one 9-year-old took it upon himself to educate his classmates about his disorder through a school project.

The story of George Yionoulis

George Yionoulis

George Yionoulis isn’t any different than any other 9-year-old in his fourth-grade class. He likes to eat tacos and spends his free time doing what he loves the most – dancing. But to the rest of the kids, he is not normal just because he suffers from autism. ASD or autism is a range of disorders which can affect the way how a child relates to his environment and interacts with others around him. Autism is a lifelong condition and children often start showing signs of this disorder from a very early age.

Sadly, most autistic kids struggle in school since teachers and classmates can’t relate to their experiences and what actually goes on inside their brains. Although this disorder doesn’t have a cure, most autistic children learn quickly when given the right support. Some of the signs of autism include late speech, poor motor skills and various other learning disabilities that make a child feel isolated. Autistic children often describe the world around them as ‘overwhelming’ which can lead to a feeling of anxiety and confusion.

But little George was brave enough to step in front of the classroom and confess some of his deepest insecurities as a child who suffers from autism. His heartwarming video on autism went viral on the internet – thanks to George’s efforts, the world is now more educated about developmental disorders.

Geroge Yionoulis, 9, with his dad, Mike Yionoulis and his mom, Lisa Jolley

Same as Every Other Classmate

George starts his 6-minute-long video by introducing himself to his classmates. As George begins his narration in the video, large letters saying the words ‘AUTISM’ display across the screen followed by a clip of him dancing. George says that he loves reading books and his favorite one is Harry Potter. He explains that he is like his classmates in many ways except one; when he was only two years old, he was diagnosed with ASD.

Many of George’s classmates think that he acts strangely but they don’t have the courage to ask what’s wrong with him which is why he felt compelled to make the video so that they get to know him better and understand why he acts the way he does. George’s exceptional skills with writing and narrating his story as well as editing the entire video proves the fact that he is no less than any other child in the world. He is simply a bit different, and sometimes it requires patience to communicate with him.

Struggling to Fill in

In the video, George explains that it’s hard for him to maintain eye contact while having a conversation with someone but just because he has trouble looking, doesn’t mean that he has trouble listening too. On the contrary, he is a great listener and conversationalist but most people don’t know this about him because they avoid talking to him.

But sometimes, he finds it difficult to focus on his surrounding because his head is filled with different voices that are speaking at the same time so when someone ask him a question, it takes him some time to formulate an answer. Sometimes he can’t tell if someone is being literal with him or simply making a figure of speech – a common condition with autism.

There are times when things become too overwhelming for George and he expresses his anger and frustration by yelling or crying. Due to his OCD, he can never settle for anything less than perfect so sometimes when things don’t go according to plan, he becomes impatient and fussy. George ended the video by saying that he would appreciate it if his classmates talked to him or invited him to play. George’s heartwarming message resonated with millions of parents around the world who know what it is like to raise a child with a mental or learning disorder.

Does this help you to better understand people with special needs?

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