At a local coffeehouse in Grayslake, Illinois, 18 year old Mickey Wamser shares a personal short story entitled “The Autistic Normal.” He asks the audience to think about their most challenging obstacle in life, and how they would feel if they could not share their thoughts of emotions.
Think about having no physical control of yourself, he says, and expressing emotions only through screaming, crying, or shaking. Imagine how frustrating it feels when you don’t know how to speak your mind. And lastly, think about what it feels like to be bullied for something you have absolutely no control over.
This is Mickey’s own perspective on autism. His younger brother Eddie suffered from stoke before being born. At first he was mistakenly diagnosed with low muscle tone. However, their mother, Nancy, knew there was something more. Eddie had eye problems, difficulty writing, and delayed speech. When he did speak, it was repetitive. It wasn’t until he was 8 years old that he got the proper diagnosis for autism.
As a kid, Mickey didn’t quite understand his little brother. Whenever he would lightly tap him on the shoulder he would say it hurt. Mickey simply couldn’t comprehend that it actually did hurt him. However, as years went on, he has now become an advocate for autism awareness.
For his senior year public service practicum, Mickey organized an open mic night at 83 Coffeehouse. The goal was to create a platform for those with autism, their families, friends, and caregivers to share their experiences and emotions. This was a chance to really educate their community, give them the opportunity to learn and spread awareness on what autism truly means.
Several people participated in the event and shared some really great stuff. Social worker Jennifer Witkowski shared the top 10 traits that make people with autism special, such as honesty and passion. Cade Heneghan shared 5 poems he wrote himself about everyday life living with autism.
Mickey was so overwhelmed with the turnout of the event. He would like that people become more knowledgeable about autism. To not ignore those who are different but rather see the value in their uniqueness. The Wamsers feel truly blessed to be an autistic family. As Mickey puts it, “They change us far more than we can ever change them. They open up our eyes and help us view this different world. That isn’t a bad thing…”
Written by Raiza Belarmino