Grade 9 Interview Aspiring Writer

Grade 9 students had the opportunity to interview an aspiring writer as part of their unit “Narrators, Perspectives, Readers!” Here is the story of how it came about and the interview.

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Recently, the grade 9 classes studied a unit called “Narrators, Perspectives, Readers!” The entire unit explored how authors use unusual perspectives to communicate what it means to be human. We read the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon. The story is narrated in first-person perspective. The narrator, a teenage boy named Christopher, has a condition called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Christopher then has to learn to utilise, and control the unique talents and characteristics that come with ASD to solve a murder mystery. During this unit, we had to learn to think like Christopher and identify with his struggles, and talents.

This was a daunting task. Thankfully, we are very lucky Mrs. Arsovski has a friend who could help us to understand more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. His name is Marc.

Marc is 26 years old. He is from Atlanta, Georgia where he lives with his parents and his Yorkshire terrier named Reesy. He also has a sister, Stacey, who is married to his brother-in-law, Jacob. They have a 3-month-old baby girl named Shayna whom Marc loves very much. Marc enjoys writing, and writes articles for his neighborhood newsletter, among other things.

Some grade 9 students were interested in Marc’s experiences and wrote some questions for him to answer. See below for his responses!

Q: If you were to travel anywhere in the world where would you go? 

A: I would travel to Sweden to meet all of you because this opportunity your teacher has arranged is a fantastic opportunity for me. I have new friends that have an interest in me and I get to share my life story with you. I understand it gets very cold there so I would prefer traveling in the spring or summer though. 

Q: I’m curious about what help you received when you were in school. What were some things that the school did to help you? Were there things you think they could have done better?

A: I enjoyed school for many reasons. I liked riding the bus and seeing people. However, the academics were very limited because they did not know how to teach me. They did repetitious work because they thought I needed that. They did not presume competence. I felt very bored in school.  I did like getting speech therapy and occupational therapy which were more useful. I liked PE and recess too. I wish I could go back to school again to learn academics properly. 

Q: Do you like to read? What kinds of books do you like to read? What’s your favorite book?

A: I prefer to be read to because it’s difficult to follow my eyes in columns however I can read short things. I love to google everything on my iPad. My favorite things to read or be read to are about politics and current events. I also am interested in history too.

Q: What do you do when you are overwhelmed? What are your coping methods?

A: When I am overwhelmed I hum and it calms me down. I also repeat things and perseverate on certain topics. I like to relax and have time to myself to calm down. I usually solicit calm things to feel better.

Q: What inspired you to write?

A: I started spelling to communicate on a laminated letter board and then I  advanced to a keyboard and the writing just improved. I  began expressing my thoughts and opinions and began writing articles for my neighborhood newsletter. I enjoy writing and being creative and original. I have learned so much from just listening for so many years. My vocabulary developed just from being silent.

Q: Who do you go to for help?

A: I go to my parents for help. My mom is my communication partner and she holds the keyboard for me to type on. I am working on initiating the spelling. We automatically do it every day 2 to 3 times a day. We use a wireless keyboard and what I type goes on my iPad and I can edit it afterwards. Both of my parents are very supportive. They help me with my job sending out COVID kits to patients. They are the best parents ever. I am grateful they devote so much time to me.

Q: What are your main methods of communication in day-to-day life?

A:  Most of my life I was only able to talk with limited ability. I started learning to spell to communicate. It uses a different part of the brain to point with your finger. I started learning this 4 years ago with a coach named Austin. We met once a week and he spent so much time training me to spell words, then sentences, and eventually I could answer any questions and give my personal opinions about the topic he read to me. Then my mom started working with me and I really improved more. I spell every day on a keyboard and it’s wireless and I can communicate without any problem now. I am able to express myself so it’s so fulfilling to finally have a voice. I still struggle verbally so I need to start spelling with more people. 

Q: What is your favourite color?

A: My favorite color is red. That was an easy question to answer. Whoever asked that I have a question for you. What is the Swedish word for red?

Q: What is the most inspirational scene in a book or a movie you have ever seen in your life? What did you think or feel when you saw the scene?

A: This is a difficult question to answer but one of my favorite movies is The Lion King. My most favorite scene was when Mufasa held Simba on the highest peak of the mountain in the animal kingdom. This was a ceremony symbolizing a new generation called The Circle of Life. The father was so happy and proud to have a new son who would eventually be the next king.

Q: How do you make friends? 

A: I make friends by the activities I do. For example, I have been doing  CrossFit for 6 years and I do activities with the friends I made there like going to the movies, going out to eat, and going swimming.  Sometimes we meet up at dances and at birthday parties. Our moms are friends too and go with us.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 15 years? 

A: The next few years will be crucial to the rest of my life. I am currently building solid foundational work skills that will catapult me into successful careers for the foreseeable future. I hope to absorb as many trade skills available to me.  Of course, I have limits to what I can do without continual prompting but I will never let that stop me from pursuing a toolbox full of work skills. I do not necessarily know what career I might want to do permanently but I hope to seek out organizations that respect special needs and presume competence. I also see myself continuing the path of advocating for myself and my fellow autistic friends. It’s really just a situation of getting my story out there and educating people on the lives we can have if we just accept and adapt to those around us who need just a little assistance here and there.

What is Autism?

Autism, more accurately Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a complex developmental disorder that can commonly result in difficulties with social interactions, including verbal, and nonverbal communication. ASD is something that forms a person into who they are, it adds personality, feelings, and opinions. 

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. On this day, nations around the world recognize people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Who better to help the SIS community understand the perspective of a person with ASD than our friend Marc!   

Marc is our very special guest writer for an article about autism awareness – you can find that article here

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