Hello, I’m Paul Benjamin Riley, II, but everyone calls me P.J. I’m an autism specialist. That’s because I’m autistic! I want you to know that you don’t have to be afraid of me when you see me. I am a normal kid. I like to do things other kids do. I just do them my way. I play soccer. I swim. I do all sorts of things. I just have a few habits that you may find strange. I’m what many people call “non-verbal” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually talk a lot! Just ask my mom and dad. I just haven’t yet figured out how to have meaningful conversation. A lot of what you’ll hear from me is called echolalia (meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words…i.e. tv shows, common requests, demands, or reprimands) Another fun fact, I’m a ROCK STAR, literally. Rocking side
to side comforts me so I do it often, usually while shaking a preferred item at rapid-fire speed in front of my face! You guys should see it, my speed is record breaking. This is called stimming. Wikipedia says that stimming is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movements of objects common in people like me. I guess they should know. Anyway, although most of the time this is soothing, sometimes it can become a bit much. I either get overstimulated and cry or it interferes with the more important tasks. Let’s just say stimming for me is like my siblings with their devices. So, mom and dad make me stop before I get carried away. I’ve learned to read, and I actually love books so much that I rip the pages out of them. Boy, check out the irony in that statement. It’s only because I get so attached to a word or image that I want a closer view. I love my tablet. I’m good at using it too. I’m very sensitive to sound. Certain sounds or pitches, whether high or low, bother my ears, so I cover them a lot. I love music. My papa lets me play his keyboard every time I go and visit him. There are other things that I like too but I will tell you about them later.
Before I go, I want to introduce you to some of my family. This is a picture of my family when we were in New York. My older big sister Nya, my younger big sister Tay, my dad, and mom, my younger brother Silas (he can be annoying) and of course, ME! My family loves me. But Silas is fairly new, so we’re trying to figure this one out. But I love him even if he is annoying.
Hello, everyone. PJ is my grandson. He is a very special person who shows his specialness through his individuality with each action. Watching him develop has been a joy because he is such a loving and lovable little boy. We never know what to expect from him. As an example, my husband (his Papa) has a keyboard that he’d been trying to figure out how to operate some of the special technical features of it. PJ, without any persuasion to approach the keyboard sat down and operated the technical section with which his Papa had been struggling. PJ suddenly read out loud. Most amazingly, he asked his mother for an apple in Spanish and the household is not a dual language household. We know that PJ is very capable, but because he doesn’t communicate well, we don’t know just how much he knows.
Comic illustrated by Rebecca Burgess
Autism Speaks is a wonder organization. I urge everyone to support their efforts. I have copied an excerpt from their blog and posted a link to their website. Please take the time to peruse the site and learn about the great work they do. It would be wonderful if you support their efforts anyway you can. See what other autism parents and friends have to say about it at #autismspeaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. https://www.autismspeaks.org/about-us
PJ’s Grandma-J Riley PJ’s Papa Riley