How One Student With Autism Changed the Way Society Views Autism Spectrum Disorders

Over 3 million Americans are affected by autism spectrum disorders, a number that has increased significantly since the 1980s. Although autism impacts so many lives, it is still little understood by many people in our society. Autism spectrum disorders even puzzle doctors, who, despite making great strides in the area, have yet to understand what exactly causes the disorder. As doctors continue to research autism, including the causes, symptoms and characteristics, it is important to educate our society about the disorder as well.

What is Autism?

Autism affects development in the brain and is actually regarded as a spectrum disorder with a wide range of characteristics. The disorders affect how information is processed in the brain due to an alteration in the connection and organization of nerve cells and their synapses. Characteristics of children with autism include impaired social interaction and communication, restricted and repetitive behaviors and in some cases unusual eating behaviors. Children with autism in schools can have a difficult time interacting with other students and their teachers, but special education programs are available in all public schools to modify teaching methods to help students with autism in schools learn better.

As was stated before, autism spectrum disorders are highly misunderstood in our society. More often than not, people tend to focus on the things that people with autism can’t do, and not on what they may excel in. People with autism can have a wide range of talents, from athletics to academics. Several years ago, a boy with autism in a school in Upstate New York showed the world just how talented people with autism spectrum disorders can be.

The Amazing Talents of Jason McElwain

Jams McElwain, better known by many as J-Mac, was a manager for his high school’s basketball team. In 2006, he was given an opportunity to play in his only varsity game during the final minutes of his team’s division title game. With a strong lead going and just four minutes left until the end of the game, J-Mac’s coach decided to put him in. Although he missed a couple of shots at first, he went on to show his team, and the crowd, how talented he really was. J-Mac ended up scoring six three-pointers and one two-pointer in the final minute’s of play, adding an amazing 20 points to the scoreboard.

After that, J-Mac went on to win an ESPY award, appeared on Oprah, and became an advocate for the importance of researching autism. As an avid runner, he has also completed many races, including the Boston Marathon. J-Mac’s story is a testament to the abilities of children with autism in schools and sports, and proves that even with an autism disorder, people can do anything they put their minds to.

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