The prompt was to find an artifact relating to autism. I immediately went onto Youtube because I am always fascinated with what I find. I literally typed into the search bar “Autism.” I was completely shocked at how many videos came up (7 pages to be exact). One that stood out to me was about a young man managing his high school’s basketball team. His dream was to play, but since he had Autism it made it difficult and he couldn’t be on the team. The coach decided to have faith in this young man, Jason McElwain, and have him suit up. He made no promises about playing him, but there was hope that he could potentially play for a little while. There were about 4 minutes left in the game, and the team was losing by enough that it wouldn’t hurt to put him in. Everyone was shocked and proud to have him even suit up that they all made posters with his face on it to show their support. The coach simply pointed at Jason, and everyone went crazy in the stands. The first ball he shot was an air ball, but he wasn’t done trying. There was a rebound and he ran the ball to the other side of the court and shot a three point shot. Whoosh. After that, he was completely unstoppable. He made 6 three point shots, and 13 baskets, scoring 20 points to help them win the game. “I was as hot as a pistol, just kept shooting.” He was such an inspiration that George W. Bush, Oprah, and Magic Johnson all wanted to meet him.
This young man was an idol to everyone in his school- but that wasn’t the reason why I chose his story. He received a letter from two parents who had a son, Eric, who was diagnosed with Autism. They had dreamed for him to be involved in sports because they were so involved themselves, and knew how much sports meant to shaping a child. They thought that when he was diagnosed, he wouldn’t have the capacity to play. They wrote Jason a letter explaining their story and at the bottom it said “Thank you for giving us hope.” It is people like this who create the Autism culture we have learned about. There are people who don’t know much about autism who seem to make the rules- or at least that’s something I have gathered from this class. There were probably times when I didn’t let my campers do what they wanted to do because there was a schedule we had to maintain. People like Jason are inspirations and advocates for the entire Autism community and their stories are incredible. Jason is incredible. This class taught me that it is so much more powerful to hear from them and truly listen to what they have to say because it may be more meaningful then anything else.