from Malva: Andrea Dukakis at Colorado Public Radio gave us a call when she heard about Benjamin’s TED talk and his ongoing autism presentations. (Benjamin had just spoken at UNC, Greeley, which was a treat – the auditorium was packed, and we were impressed by the various clubs doing so much to help families dealing with autism. UNC has one of the top special-education teacher programs in the country – a hidden gem.)
We were invited in to CPR’s offices for an interview with Ryan Warner. It was Benjamin’s first experience with radio, and he gave such insightful answers – I was so proud! The interview aired three times on May 4, each time following NPR’s coverage of the Nepal earthquake, and we received heartwarming responses from folks across Colorado – thank you all.
Here’s the audio-link to the 17-minute interview: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/inside-autistic-mind-boulders-benjamin-tarasewicz
The following summary consists of snippets, transcribed/edited by Andrea Dukakis. (Source: CPR website.) There is much more to the interview of course, and we’d love for you to take time to listen in, using the link above.
Benjamin Tarasewicz does what some people with autism struggle to do: he talks about what it’s like to live with the condition. For the last few years, the 20-year-old Boulder man has been speaking to groups about his autism, including a recent talk at a TEDx-CU event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r05BUkOfOk8 His mother, Malva Tarasewicz, has worked with him for years, helping him connect with others. She’s the author of the book, Benjamin Breaking Barriers: Autism – A Journey of Hope. Benjamin and Malva spoke with Ryan Warner.
Benjamin on life as a young child: “When I was little, I didn’t feel interested in other people, and I was really fixated on mechanical things a lot of the time … like spinning objects.”
Malva on her son as a baby: “One of our saving graces ever since Benjamin was tiny – he was just this totally huggable, affectionate baby. So I’ve always had a very easy contact and connection with him … if words didn’t do the trick, I was able to just hug him or hold him – or through touch, communicate calm: ‘It’s going to be OK,’ and ‘I’m here.’”
Benjamin on the future: “I want to give lots more presentations, and I want to always be in at least one community choir and work part-time in different situations.”
Malva about expectations: “Being realistic, most people with autism continue to need at least some form of support and supervision. One issue is the slowness of activity completion: if I was to send Benjamin off on his own and expect him to cook all the meals per day that he needs to eat, and get the laundry done, and keep the house clean, that would be pretty much his full-time job. There would be no time left to do anything else.”
Malva’s advice for parents of children with autism: “The very first thing I would say: ‘Don’t get stuck in denial.’ There is so much hope, there is so much that so many of these kids can accomplish that you’d never think they could do if you got stuck on where they’re at right now and in the direness of the diagnosis. If I had said, ‘Oh, Benjamin is so severely affected,’ (when he was little) and ‘Oh my gosh! There’s not much hope,’ [then] he wouldn’t be where he is today. You just don’t know what your child may be able to do unless you reach for the stars – and at the same time, you have to accept and love your child for who they are.”