George Yionoulis made a video for his 21 classmates that ended up being watched by more than a million people.
George is nine years old and he was born with autism. His teacher asked him if would mind sharing what it’s like to live with autism with his classmates. George was so taken with the idea that he made a video which has gone viral on YouTube (watch below).
The six-minute video titled “My Autism” features a very goofy George as narrator telling viewers about himself, what he loves, what his personality is like all from the perspective of someone who lives with autism.
Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability which affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. It’s a “spectrum condition” which means it affects individuals in different ways and to varying degrees.
Some typical behaviors include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensitivity to sensory stimuli like sound or touch.
All these aspects make it difficult for people outside the family to understand and relate to the autistic person, hence the teacher’s request for George to make a presentation to the class about his condition.
This is why this is so great:
George’s video is serving many more people than just his 21 classmates. Thousands of people are learning more about autism and how to relate to people with autism.
The fourth-grader from Raleigh, North Carolina, is a pupil at Douglas Elementary. On the video he explains why he may respond to situations differently than others.
People with autism experience the world very differently from other people which make it hard for them to relate to others and for others to relate to them. Talking about it helps people to understand autism better.
On the video, George explains that his personality may be a bit different and that it’s sometimes hard for him to focus.
“Like a lot of other kids with autism I might not have been looking [at you], but that didn’t mean I wasn’t listening,” George says.
“Speaking of listening, I can hear a lot of things and sounds all at the same time, which sometimes makes it hard to focus on any one sound or thought. That’s why it may take a little more time to answer you when you ask me a question.”
Idioms is something that people with autism don’t understand because they tend to take language literally. Humorously he explains:
“That means if you say ‘take a seat’, you might find one less chair in your classroom,” George said. “If you say ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, I might think, ‘Oh, I’m getting a puppy!'”
George’s mom, Lisa Jolley, told CBS News that George was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old.
“We had him evaluated for a speech delay. He wasn’t talking, so it really came out of nowhere for us. He was so engaging and warm. I thought, ‘He can’t possibly have this.’” Jolley told CBS News.
Jolley posted the video, which his dad, Michael Yionoulis, helped edit, onto YouTube and her personal Facebook page. Within days the video started attracting attention with thousands of views, reports CBS News.
Want to know the best part?
George’s video really made an impact. “It’s amazing to see how many people it has touched,” Jolley said. “And his class loved it. They have been, according to his teacher, taking it to heart and having more patience with him.”
What’s more, he has made a case not only for children who have autism, but for all students who have ever felt rejected because they are different; for all the many children who feel like a misfit or are misunderstood and feel isolated.
His video can make them realize that they are not alone, and it can also help other young people to treat them with greater understanding.
In his own words: “I like having fun, just like you. So if you ever see me playing by myself, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to play with you, too. Don’t be afraid to come ask me about it. No seriously, it’s ok, just come ask me about it.”