April is National Autism Awareness Month. James Kavanagh, a 26-year-old public relations professional with a large Snapchat following, found a unique way to promote the cause. The Irish man interviewed his 13-year-old nephew Sean, who has autism, and published the video to social media.
Sean has atypical autism, which involves having behavior that fits most but not all of the criteria for typical autism. Children with atypical autism might be diagnosed as toddlers, and some, like Sean, require speech therapy growing up.
"The autistic spectrum varies. It can be more severe with some people than others," Sean explained in the video. "Some kids with autism have [a number of] sensory difficulties, some don't have very good social skills."
While Sean mentioned some of the things that bothered him, like loud noises and limited personal space, his message reiterated that people with autism are capable of doing great things. In fact, when he was 9 years old, his IQ was measured to be 120.
"Autistic kids are quite intelligent and they're very good in a certain topic. My [specialties are] probably spelling and math."
When Sean was younger, he revealed, some classmates did not understand his disorder and bullied him at school. The 13-year-old encouraged viewers to engage in kinder, more thoughtful interactions.
"Be understanding," Sean said. "Try to let them into your activities, always use literal language, never be sarcastic."
He also said that people should avoid using the word "special" to refer to kids with autism, as it might have a negative connotation.
"Most important, just understand that they're different and they see the world in their own perspective," Sean said.
After the video went viral, Sean's uncle James was interviewed on Irish television to further promote awareness for autism.