FORT MYERS, Fla. - Autism affects one in 110 children and impacts the entire family. The feelings of those who are diagnosed are often a mystery, until now. A Ft. Myers boy is offering a rare perspective made possible through the generosity of a local organization.
"Reno is funny and smart and he has a lot of friends, and he also has a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome." Explains Tuesday Williams, Reno's mother.
Asperger's syndrome is on the Autism spectrum, and it forces Reno Williams to see the world from a unique perspective.
"Sometimes I flap my hands if I get excited, or I make loud noises if I get mad." Explains Reno Williams.
"He was seven when the actual diagnosis came." Said Tuesday. "I wasn't really sure that that meant.. for him, for his future, for our family."
Reno didn't play with toys, didn't make eye contact, and struggled to speak. He knew he was different, but didn't know why.
"He thought, if I don't understand, how are my peers and my teachers or anyone else going to understand?" Said Tuesday.
Reno started researching, and writing down what he learned and what he felt.
"I wanted everyone to know what Autism was and I didn't want anybody to get bullied." Said Reno.
The glimpse inside his head was so remarkable and so insightful, he caught the attention of the Adonis Autism group, who gave him a grant to help spread the word to other families. The ten year old became a published author.
"Even as Reno's mom I didn't know how he was thinking and feeling," Said Tuesday. "So for us and for them, it gives them a little glimpse inside their own child."
Reno explained why bright lights bother him, why he can't tolerate certain smells, and why he pauses before answering questions. A boy shackled by communication difficulties, finally found freedom through his pen.
"It's very emotional just sitting here listening to Reno," Explains Beth Cameron, President of Adonis Autism. "Just knowing we can make a difference is just awesome for us."
"I am so proud." Said Tuesday. "It's just amazing to me. He is such an inspiration for me and for a lot of others."
"They say it's a good book." Said Reno. "It'll maybe make more people understand."
Reno's World was made possible thanks to Adonis Autism, a group which aims to enhance the quality of life for people with Autism in Southwest Florida. Donations from our community help fund their incredible work.
If you would like to help, Adonis along with the Autism Assistance Foundation are holding a joint fundraiser. For $30, a team will place a flock of plastic flamingos on the lawn of the home or office of your choice. The flamingos hold a sign saying "You've been flocked," with an explanation about the charity fundraiser. All of the money raised will help pay for extra programs for adults and children with Autism, such as art classes, piano classes, behavior assessments, etc.