I am Christopher and my life is amazing. I was born in 1995, and at age 3, I was diagnosed with Autism. From that day until now, my parents have fought to protect me, as well as make sure that I had the best life possible. The doctors told my mom that I wouldn’t know ‘who she is’, but believe me… I know my mom. She’s my champion.
My family moved to North Carolina in 2002. At age seven, I began attending Idlewild Elementary School. I was shy and I did not know how to make friends. The following year, I went to Mallard Creek Elementary School and started taking music classes outside of school. Before I could talk, I could sing. My mom thought this would be good for me and she was right. Singing helped me to be more verbal and social with peers.
I worked with Ms. Debra, and she taught me some valuable lessons, including the importance of practicing, which I did not enjoy at first. In fifth grade, I participated in a school talent show and went to grade graduation. Ms. Debra helped me to sing recitals at music school and helped me prepare an audition piece for North West School of the Arts for music.
My mom was determined to have me use my voice and to be recognized for my abilities – not my ‘disabilities’.
I auditioned for NWSA where I was accepted to sing in the school chorus. I learned to read music and I loved my teacher, Ms. Johnson. The work was hard, but my mom got tutors to help me maintain my school work.
While in middle school, I also attended Masterworks School of the Arts, where I studied music and theatre. That was a lot of fun.
After I graduated from NWSA, I went to Mallard Creek High School, which was a pathway for me to showcase my ability to navigate school on my own. I was able to be more independent.
Throughout school, my mom made sure that I received speech and occupational therapy. Through speech, I learned to hold conversations with peers and became more confident. I started to not be as shy.
As I got into high school, I came out of my shell a little. I would communicate more and became more aware of my surroundings. I learned my schedule and how to get around the school on my own. I did experience some bullying, and my mom came to the school to speak with the principal and other people to help me and make sure this did not happen again. My mom used to tell me, “You do your part and I will do mine”. She has always taken care of me. I love her for that. With my family, friends, teachers, therapists, and tutors, I was able to graduate from Mallard Creek with a high school diploma.
It takes a village.
After high school, my mom wasted no time trying to figure out what I would be doing next. She got me involved in the Phillips Academy Program, where I was able to socialize and improve on some life skills, but there was more for me to do. I was able to get into the Winthrop University Think College Program where I studied music and volunteered and gained some work skills.
Today, I volunteer at the Mecklenburg County Public Library. I would like to learn about computer coding. Like I said, my life is amazing.