Heart of Autism: Making Other Kids Feel Proud

Friday, March 29, 2013 View Comments

Lucas Laliotis is a nine-year-old boy from New Hampshire. When he was 6, he was diagnosed with high functioning autism/Asperger Syndrome. This Heart of Autism post is by Lucas’ mom, Sarah Laliotis.

At age 8, my son Lucas began to notice his differences more. He began to feel embarrassed about these differences. As a result, he started to rebel against the tools he needed to be successful, like his lap pad. He often felt the tools available were dull or "baby-ish." Without the tools, he started to exhibit more behaviors that would set him apart from his peers. His self-esteem was definitely beginning to suffer. We knew we had to do something.

Lucas has always been very creative and loved projects. When the idea came up to have Lucas help create his own lap pad, it didn't take much convincing! We went and spoke with his occupational therapist who thought it was a great idea too! So with the help of my mother, we took a trip to the fabric store and picked out fabric. After a few failed attempts, he created a weighted lap pad by explaining what he liked and what he needed. After we finished his new lap pad, he brought it to school and had so many more successful days because he was using the device! The director in his classroom asked us where he got it and he proudly interrupted and declared he created it. She looked at me and then at him and I explained how we made it.

Since then, Lucas has helped create kid friendly sensory products with my mom and me. The three of us launched the Sensor-bility company in 2012 with Lucas as the creative director playing a vital role in choosing materials and directing product creation and testing by explaining what looks cool and "feels good." He helped to design the company logo, and checks the Facebook page with me every night. This project has given Lucas the chance to give a voice to his diagnosis and be proud of his accomplishments!

Since then we have designed and made custom weighted shoulder snakes, lap pads, wiggle seats, fidget toys, etc. all of which are based on the designs of my 9-year-old autistic son. We have shipped products to everywhere from New Hampshire to Washington state. Ultimately, our goal is to be able to provide products to children that might not have been able to find these or afford them otherwise. We donate these products whenever we can to help other kids like Lucas. But most importantly, this project has given my son a voice. He is no longer ashamed and he has learned to be proud of who he is! Lucas’ goal is to help other kids like himself, so they are no longer embarrassed by the tools that help them succeed!

Do you know any individuals with autism giving back to the autism community? We would love to hear from you! Email us at heartofautism@autismspeaks.org, and check out our other Heart of Autism stories here!