By: Sheri Mellott Autism Speaks My husband Franklin retired after 23 years in the United States Navy, a decorated naval aviator and test pilot whose combat missions including flying in the opening strike of the Gulf War. During his final 24 months on active duty, all three of our children were diagnosed with special needs including two who were diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It was a blow to the family like we have never experienced nor ever could have imagined. Our dreams for the future began unraveling faster than we could anticipate. My husband decided he had to retire from active duty to find a better place for our children since it seemed one diagnosis was falling into our lap after another with all of our children. So he accepted a job at Penn State University and we headed to Pennsylvania. Our oldest child, Alex, now 15 and in the 10th grade, received no early intervention, no behavioral interventions and has been bullied significantly over the last six years of his life. Late one night last week, when I thought Alex had gone to bed, he made this video when he learned that his younger brother Nathaniel was being publicly humiliated by a teacher at school. He told me he’d worked for a week on his persuasion project for Advanced English, a video piece about drunk driving. But he said he was so upset about what had happened to Nathaniel that he decided he needed to do a video about bullying. So he stayed up for two hours late at night and put this together. My son, Alex asked me to share this in any advocacy circles where it might make a difference to another military child with Autism. He hopes this helps someone… somewhere… Alex was identified for Gifted Services when he was in 1st grade. He designed his first website when he was five years old. He started his own business called Tech 911 when he was in the 6th grade and provided tech support for about a dozen military spouses aboard Naval Air Station Lemoore California when the Iraq “surge” occurred and the F-18 Hornet community deployed suddenly. Alex is currently going through a Cisco Systems Academy at his Pennsylvania high school and is eligible to become Cisco-certified in multiple certifications categories. Alex presented this video to his Advanced English class last Thursday. He said there were no words when it was done running; the teacher said nothing and the students said nothing. So was it persuasive?  I believe so.  But did he get an A? No, he received a B- because the teacher was not convinced Alex had a personal connection to bullying. Alex felt very passionately about this video last night. When he showed it to me and told me why he made it, I just watched and wept. Alex suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from bullying events of the past. He verbalizes that he will never be the same. The person he is now is a culmination of all that he has been through. But he feels strongly about advocacy and he really wants to make a difference.   What causes are you passionate about?

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