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Autism Awareness Month

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Autism Awareness Month

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April has arrived and everyone is talking about all the upcomings of the month: spring flowers, warm weather, if the heat gets to Indiana, and spring cleaning. As much as these things sound fun and interesting, this month is a special month for my family. It maybe the month of my mom’s birthday and myself preparing for my AP tests, but this month we celebrate my cousin, who is like a brother to me, Keegan.

Keegan Joseph Yocum is a lovable and fun fifteen-year-old freshman that goes to school at Maconaquah High School. He is a science lover, a beginner in French, and a person who loves to study about different religions. Keegan loves his family, especially his favorite cousin, who is me, and enjoys going on adventures to places like Disney World or Kentucky Kingdom. His life may sound as if he has it all together but in reality, it just started for him. When Keegan was born on June 8, 2002, he was diagnosed with autism.  Every year in the month of April, we celebrate Autism Awareness Month. During this month people all around the nation celebrate autism and describe the awareness with puzzle pieces. These puzzle pieces represent that each “puzzle piece” is unique in its own way and each image on the piece shows diversity in every individual.

“When we found out Keegan had autism, we were just shocked. Nobody in our family really had a disability except something like ADHD or ADD,” said Keegan’s mom Dorie Yocum.

I remember when Keegan was around six or seven and an occupational therapist used to see him every week. He and his family used to live across the street from me when I lived in Logansport and everyday when the occupational therapist was there, I was there with him too. From weekly visits, Keegan finally learned how to walk, talk, and how to put his clothes on the right way.

“Keegan showed a lot of improvement over the years, said my mom Angel Mercier. We worked with him everyday and all he did was try his best and kept smiling. Smiling was always his favorite thing to do.”

Despite Keegan having autism, he is still up and going. He continues to grow up and learn more things about his development like body language and movement. “When he was younger, Keegan had a high pain tolerance. He would always run into things and never shed a tear. It was just different.” Now Keegan can react to new emotions such as crying with actual tears, and also he reacts more when he something angers him. Thankfully as he is continuing to grow up and learn more about himself while continuing to love himself even more.

“I don’t mind my autism. To me it shows that I am just more unique than a lot of people.” This quote made me realize that Keegan does know he has a disability, but he doesn’t let that get in his way into becoming successful. “When I grow up, I want to preach in a church or learn more about science.” He definitely has a dream and with his autism, his dream will just be more amazing.

All in all, Keegan has been a huge part in my life. We have been there for one another through thick and thin, and I keep loving him more everyday. It has been amazing to be right beside him to grow and experience a lot of things together like seeing him speak a full sentence for the first time and both of us chasing each other in the front yard. His journey with his autism inspired me to learn more about his disability and study to become an occupational therapist.  

Autism Awareness Month is a huge deal for my family and others around the nation, so please make sure everyone respects everyone and know that autism may be a disability, but they are human too. From the words of the American Autism Association, “Autism is not a choice, however acceptance is.”

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Autism Awareness Month”

  1. Ashli Key on April 19th, 2018 10:27 am

    Great article Meg! I love how you really put all your emotions and feelings into this article. I didn’t know this month was Autism Awareness until I read your article so it really helped me understand the importance of this month. You did an amazing job!

  2. Mari Karmel on April 23rd, 2018 8:39 am

    Thanks for bringing attention to this very important topic, Meghan! I also have a cousin with autism. He loves school and super heros just as much as the next kid does. You are great for pulling this topic up to everyone’s attention. Great job!

  3. Zach Fields on April 29th, 2018 9:52 pm

    Great article Megan! Finding out that your kid has a disability would be pretty shocking. Keegan sounds like a good kid. I like how you incorporated an interview into this article. You can tell you really love him.

  4. Jordan Henry on May 2nd, 2018 10:59 am

    Great story! It’s so sweet how close you are with your cousin. You did a really good job describing how you felt and how important it was to you. Good job.

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
Autism Awareness Month