Autistic Student Not Afraid To Tackle Challenges

Autistic Student Not Afraid To Tackle Challenges

“Be proud!”

This is the statement Jon Gonzales gave to any student who is living with autism.
Jon is a student at Mercy, studying Media Studies. His goal is to become a film critic, but his story hasn’t always been a scene in a movie.

Jon has Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder in the autism spectrum. And though he acts and looks like any other student on campus, he lacks certain abilities students who live without autism  have.

“Sometimes I remember certain things randomly, like scenes and words from films,” Jon said. “When dorming at Mercy, I feel anti social because my family lives far from the college. I get nervous when I am around new people. If I didn’t have autism, I guess I would dorm with another person.”

According to, Autism is a complex brain disorder that occurs during the birthing process or when the child is between the ages of one to three. Studies show that boys are four out of five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Asperger’s Syndrome is also a form of autism but the effects are different. It affects motor coordination and attention to physical health of the brain. However, people with Asperger’s have an active creative side. They have enhanced visual skills in music, arts, and math. Like Jon, people who are living with Aspeger’s are known to have an an average or above average intellect.

According to The National Autism Society, there are half a million people diagnosed with autism in the UK. In the U.S., autism is estimated to affect two million people. There is no central register of everyone who has autism, which means that any information about the possible number of people with autism in the community must be based on epidemiological surveys.

“Therapists would tell my parents that I had Attention Deafest Disorder (ADD). I was 12 years old when I found out I had autism, and honestly, I was relieved. I didn’t know what Asperger’s Syndrome until my sophomore year of high school.”

Jon says that he has embraced his autism. When asked if there was a cure he said, “I don’t want there to be a cure; there is nothing wrong with a person with autism.”

Back at Carmel High School, Jon took part in an Autism Speaks Organization. His two friends, Alex and James, were part of the organization as well.

“James has autism also, and he made every meeting. Alex was a senior and attended some meetings.”

One day in a meeting, the adviser of Autism Speaks, Dr. Gorlitshy, told the group one of the fliers for an Autism Musical event Jon made had been taken down. The word “retards” was written above the typed word autism. The club reaction was one of fury.

“I was so angry I wanted to yell at the person who did this. But Gorlitshy said I should say on the announcement speaker how autism and retardation is different.”

Jon adds Gorlitshy helped him with his emotions. “She would say, ‘think before you act.’ And it has helped me.”

Even though the ignorant student wrote that word on Jon’s filer, Jon says he had a lot of friends in high school that supported him. “I was more talkative in high school because I knew [them] from middle school.”

Although the month of April is dedicated for Autism Awareness, October is Anti-Bullying Awareness month, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month. NDEAM for short focuses on adults with autism spectrum disorder in the workforce.

According to the Autism Speaks Employment Think Tank, these two day think tank meetings begin with the hope that by bringing together like-minded people who share a common drive and expertise, Americans will be able to
solve a problem that is too big to solve alone.

Jon is excelling in his full course load and is currently working at the library.

While Anti Bullying Month is being celebrated, a lot of kids aren’t so lucky the other 11 months of the year. Over 40 percent of children have been bullied because they have autism. Fortunately for Jon, he had friends to support him throughout high school.

Jon says, “When speaking to a person with autism, parents and students should be patient, be calm, and don’t ever judge them.”