Meet Blake D.

Growing up with Blake: Honest insights from a supportive autism mom

Blake D., 15

I feel that with autism, your brain just works different but not worse. I want people to know I can learn and do things like everyone else.
Blake and his mom

Blake D. is carving his own unique path. At 15, he’s a gaming enthusiast, a budding coder, and a dirt bike rider who’s eagerly counting down the days until he can get his driver’s license. But Blake’s story is about more than typical teenage aspirations. Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Blake has faced challenges that have shaped him into the remarkable young man he is today. Discover Blake’s everyday victories and the quiet resilience that defines his journey, as shared by him and his mother.  

As his mother, I’ve witnessed Blake’s incredible journey firsthand. Blake is witty, loves innuendos and can’t tell a lie. Aside from his autism, Blake is your typical teenager, with good days and challenging ones. But one constant has been his remarkable ability to overcome the limitations imposed on him. 

Even before he was diagnosed at the age of three, we could see Blake had some challenges, so we started him in speech therapy at 18 months. For three years after his diagnosis, Blake received 40 hours a week of ABA in our home. It was not easy, nor was it economical, but we would not have the son and brother we have today without it. As time passed and Blake reached milestones with the help of support and services, many of my fears subsided, and our family found a safe place of understanding.   

Throughout my children’s lives, Autism Speaks has been an invaluable resource for our family. I have relied on their resource guides, toolkits, and trusted research for most of Blake’s life. In short, Autism Speaks has been a beacon of light during our sometimes-isolated journey.  

Because of all the services and supports Blake has received, he now attends mainstream high school classes with substantive aide support. Last summer, he worked his very first job at Goodwill through a program designed for teens needing extra support. He will be back there this summer, gaining invaluable work experience and building more friendships –something that has never come easy for him. 

If you or someone you know is looking for local therapy services, our Autism Response Team is here to help. (ART) understands that every individual on the autism spectrum has unique needs. Our team of Certified Resource Specialists are here to provide personalized information, support and referrals to empower autistic individuals, families, service providers, and the community to help navigate their specific challenges. 

To get a glimpse of Blake’s perspective, here’s a brief Q&A where he shares his thoughts on his journey and future aspirations: 

Blake on a motorcycle

Q: Working at Goodwill seems like it was a big step for you. What lessons did you take away from the experience?     

I feel like I gained independence because I did it on my own. Even the little jobs were important because we were a team. I plan to work at Goodwill again this summer, I know what jobs feel like and I can do other jobs and be successful.  

Q: When you're not hitting the books or the job scene, what do you love to do in your downtime?   

I am very good at video games and drawing, and I like to go to the movies and go out to eat. I also like riding my dirt bike and traveling.  

Q: Out of everything you've accomplished, what are you most proud of?    

I’m proud of all the little things I’ve done because it makes me feel like everyone else. 

Q: You’ve accomplished a lot and navigated some serious challenges. Who or what do you credit for your successes?    

Blake standing next to a blue car

My parents, my sister and my aides at school have given me a lot of support my whole life. I couldn't do all that I do without them.  

Q: Looking ahead, what are your biggest goals and ambitions?  

I want to graduate, learn to drive, and go to college. I also want my own house. 

Q: Sharing your personal story is a big deal. Why is it so important for you to connect with the autism community?  

You can do all things other people do, but you may need a little more time or help. Have confidence! 

Each autistic person has their own strengths and challenges. We are proud to share their stories in support of our continued work to increase understanding and acceptance, across the spectrum and throughout the life span.

The story shared above represents the experience, views and perspectives of the individual(s) highlighted. We aim to share stories across the spectrum and throughout the life span, but the information provided on our website is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals.