OPINION

Thank you Cole

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief

It’s amazing how some people can really impact your life upon first meeting them. Last week I met an 11-year-boy named Cole Castrogovannie who was diagnosed with autism at three years old. To me Cole was just like any other 11-year-old, he played in the yard, tried to sneak off into areas he wasn’t supposed to and he gave me high fives.

As I sat talking to his family, Cole would come by and ask me how I’m doing and he wasn’t afraid to get close to me. He sensed I was harmless as I did he and before I knew it he was trying to see his reflection in my eye-glasses. Cole was just a fun kid to be around and his family told me that he hardly ever meets anybody and doesn’t have a positive effect on them. I definitely am no exception.

With April being Autism Awareness Month, we need to really take time and recognize what that means. If we can recognize it, then we’ll be able to help change the condition many children are diagnosed with. Many of us shy away from the less conditioned people in our society. Either that or we act as if we’re too busy to take time out and give them a high five or a fist pound.

Last week was a learning week for me as I was taught the good and the bad of raising an autistic child. But what stuck in my head most was they are just normal kids and want to be treated like any other person their age. I can remember a lot of times in my grade school days trying to avoid or go around the children with autism or other disabilities. It wasn’t that I was afraid of them or looked down on them, it was that I didn’t know how to communicate with them, or at least I didn’t think I did. I guess I was expecting there to be some formula to how to communicate with a child with disabilities. I was wrong, very wrong. All I had to do was talk to them as if I would any other person. When I was hanging out with Cole and his family, I watched him interact with the world and understand how things he work. Then the wheels in my head began turning and I began to feel bad that it took me 22 years to get to know a person like Cole.

My point is let’s try to avoid overthinking who people are and accept the simple fact that we are all people and communicate all the same. Meeting Cole was an experience of a lifetime and hearing his story of improvement encouraged me that with the right attitude, right support and right tools anything is possible. Thank you Cole.

Blessings