I’m Benjamin Tarasewicz, I’m 17 years old and have high-functioning autism. I can’t wait to celebrate my 18th birthday next fall and then to go vote for the first time. Now, quickly, a bit of background info: I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ¼ and people would say that I was a classic, textbook case. My loss of eye-contact and language shortly after turning one year old, self-stimulatory and occasionally self-injurious behaviors, lack of social development—all these things were present when I was very little. Now I’m nearly an adult and I still deal with many of these aspects of autism, although I do have excellent language skills. In fact, I love to talk and I’m so thankful that I didn’t remain nonverbal because I love being around people. I also love being on stage, telling people about living with autism and breaking through barriers.
Me now, almost 18
Age 2, clearly autistic