A black screen lights up with a message written in script as A Great Big World’s “Say Something” plays softly in the background. The message is this:
“Your child seems in his own world and acts differently than other children at times. The doctor told you that your child is healthy but something just isn’t quite right. Then a specialist informs you that your child is Autistic.”
The video documentary then takes direction through Michael Whary of Elyria, Ohio as he tells the inspiring story of his journey through his life with autism. The 16-year-old with autism set out to compile this video as an Eagle Scout project, which requires a Boy Scout seeking the highest ranking to undertake an extensive service project. When faced with this requirement, Whary immediately knew that he wanted to do something incorporating Autism Awareness and educating the public on this pervading disorder. To date, it has been viewed on Youtube 22,000 times and has been featured on local television news.
As a young child, Whary and his family were told by doctors that he would never be able to ride a bike, let alone drive a vehicle. Today, the teenager is proud to possess a driver’s license and he owns a Hummer ATV.
Whary specifically targets parents in his 13-minute video, emphasizing that they are not alone in their troubles and that they should never blame themselves or lose hope. The high school honor student images of himself holding honors and awards, participating in his school’s marching band, and throwing shotput for the track team with facts about autism and personal anecdotes. He discusses his social limitations but enumerates the many wonderful facets that early intervention and treatment have given him.
Clips of his parents speaking about their journey discovering and accepting their son’s diagnosis specifically address parents coping with the process currently. They discuss what to expect, but also what to rejoice over, for their child is “Not the exception [but] exceptional!”