Submitted by Pauline MacLellan, mother of Neil MacLellan who spoke at the Southern New England Kick-off about why he walks.
Good Evening. My name is Neil MacLellan. I am 13 years old and in the eighth grade. I do karate, cross country, track, and basketball. I am also a straight A student at my school in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. I am the oldest of 5 children. My dad is a cancer nurse and my mom is at home taking care of all of us.
I am here tonight to talk to all of you because I have 11 year old twin brothers (Shane and Jake) and 9 year old twin sisters (Seana and Kelsey). Shane, Jake and Seana have autism.
I want to tell you what its like for me to be the big brother of 3 kids with autism. I hate autism! I feel bad that my brothers and sister have difficulty communicating. They can be hard to understand. They get really anxious if they don’t know what’s going to happen or they don’t get to do their rituals. Sometimes they tantrum or get upset and nobody knows why. Sometimes Seana even bites and hits herself. This is frustrating and embarrassing. Especially when we are out in public and people stare. Some of my friends are nervous around my siblings because they don’t understand their disabilities. I wish all my friends could be comfortable at my house.
Sometimes I’m not comfortable in my own house. Shane, Jake and Seana need a lot of help. We have personal care attendants and therapists in our home a lot. This can be frustrating because I feel like I don’t always get the alone time that I need. We don’t have a lot of privacy; it can be hard to talk to Mom or Dad by myself. I feel judged and I get advice I don’t always ask for. Sometimes I feel like I can’t be myself. I have to put on an act in my own home to feel like I fit in.
I know the work these people do is important and I appreciate the help but sometimes I just wish that no one else was in our home. I wish sometimes it was just our family and we had a normal life. It can be hard but its how I feel sometimes.
When my Mom asked if I wanted to do this, I was surprised that people wanted to hear my story. I got a little nervous because I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’ but my Mom told me to talk about how I really feel about autism, to explain what the Walk and Autism Speaks means to me. So that’s what I’m doing.
I don’t want people to think my life is all bad. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I have a good life.
Shane, Jake, Seana and Kelsey are my best friends. I love all of them and we have a special bond. Our relationships are just different. They make me laugh and I love to make them laugh.
I like to play Wii with Jake and wrestle with him; he thinks it’s hilarious. Shane likes it when I tickle him and we look at family photo albums. Seana (we call her Boo) is a little more difficult; I’m still trying to figure her out. She does like to watch me play video games. Kelsey and I don’t have autism. She seems to handle living with autistic siblings well. Sometimes we fight but i’m glad we have each other.
We all watch videos together, go to the movies, go out to eat, attend church, play soccer, go swimming, jump on the trampoline, go to the beach, take walks, visit cape cod, and go to the library and playgrounds. We do a lot together. I even share a bedroom with my brothers, but I wish I didn’t.
I think my brothers and sister have taught a lot of people that it’s okay to be different. I believe they should always be included. Shane and Jake have a lot of friends in West Bridgewater. The ladies really like them…I’m jealous.
They have a really good energy and a knack for making people happy. They accept you the way you are; they don’t care if you are cool, what kind of clothes you wear, or even if you smell bad. They just like you for being you. That’s nice…
I wish people knew they can’t help the way they act sometimes. I wish people knew they aren’t stupid, but really smart. I am a better person because of them.
I accept people for who they are. I feel like I’m more sensitive and understanding to other differences. I wanted to do this because I needed to feel like I’m doing something to help our family and other families struggling with autism.
I believe that with hard work, dedication, education and technology we can find a cure. We have to keep believing!
The walk gives me hope. Hope that things might get better and easier for people with autism.
When we walk and see all of the other people around us affected by autism I think…
- We are not alone.
- We can do this.
- We can make a difference.
I want to make a difference. I want to inspire you…
- To help
- To raise money
- To come and walk with us
- To understand
Because Shane, Jake and Seana are great, smart and loving kids that deserve the best life they could possibly have.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for believing. Please walk and spread the word. To make a donation, please visit the team page of maclellan miracles.