Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Inspiring Staff Writer

Damien is a staff writer for The Cooper Crest, his high school news paper. This is his third year working on the paper, and his articles have always been well written. However, none of them can compare to the article he most recently wrote. For those of you who don't know or have not figured it out yet, Damien is autistic. {I know that it is not politically correct to word the sentence that way, and I should say a teen with autism. However, Damien has educated me on that as well. He said, "You cannot take the autism out of me because it is part of me. I am autistic." So, please, do not take offense that I talk to my child and about my child in the way he wishes me to.}

Anyway, being autistic means, that we do not always see the emotions that fuel my child. He does not express himself in the way that most neuro-typical people, or as Damien puts it, humans do. That is why this article has touched me and brought tears to my eyes. For someone who cannot express his emotions through his voice and the words that he speaks, he writes with an eloquence that evokes emotions in the reader; and his written words give us a glimpse of the emotions welling deep inside Damien.

Here is his article:

"Assembly Was Inspiring

My impression of the assembly that former NFL player Keith Davis performed on Oct. 10 was that it was quite inspiring.

He made me realize just how low my self-esteem is. That is something that a lot of people in my life have brought to my attention, but it took a pep talk from my parent and a motivational speaker to allow me to realize it. Like he said, I had a bad first half. Definitely not as bad as some people, but a bad one nonetheless.

But Davis told us about our second half, that we shouldn't allow these bars to keep us from reaching our dreams, that we have great potential, as big as our dreams, and that we should fulfill them no matter how bad our first half was.

He told us we have a chance at a good second half as long as we bend the bar, like he did, and move forward, whether our bar was just the kids who bullied us, our drug-addicted mothers, our bad lifestyles, or being incarcerated all your life. Our second half is the only part of the game that matters, not our first half.

When he told us about his life, I'm sure it inspired many people, how he overcame his father dying, his mother becoming an alcoholic, and us just seeing the stage where he is now. He told us his bad first half, but we could see his great second half.

Just where he was and where he is now are not the same. I know that I'm better than the way I look at myself. The only reason I treat myself the way I do is because I don't feel like I'm worth anything. In retrospect, the assembly made me feel better about myself. I am better than what some people at school, and I, look at me as." (Damien Brown, The Cooper Crest, October 15, 2012, Volume 53, Number 1, Page 5)

As a mother reading how much my child is hurting because of the bullying he has endured, I had to fight back the tears this story brought to my eyes. My heart aches for my child every single day. I worry as most other parents do, but I feel sometimes I worry a little more about Damien. I worry that his self-esteem issues will keep him from excelling to the man that I know he can and should be. I work hard to encourage this wonderful child that I have been blessed with. His autism is not a curse, but his self-esteem is.

With that being said, I am very inspired by Damien. He does see his self-esteem as a curse, and he is working hard to overcome that barrier. He is now 'bending the bar' and continually fighting against everything that he has been told. Damien is taking my advice, and I am proud that he listens to that advice. "When they say you can't, you prove them wrong." Damien, I am sure your second half is going to be something that will inspire others.

Articles on autism and bullying:

School Bullies Prey on Children With Autism
Why Autistic Kids Make Easy Targets for School Bullies
Combating Bullying
Almost Half of Teens with Autism Bullied: Study

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