Meet Jason

Jason, 17

My advice is don’t be ashamed of who you are. Never let anyone tell you no when it comes to you excelling and don’t quit.
Meet Jason

Hi everyone. My name is Cherlette, and I’d like to introduce you to my son, Jason. He was born on my birthday and I call him the best gift I’ve ever received. He truly is my one and only sunshine. He loves football and basketball, algebra, electronics and video games, singing, and as a hometown boy, his Tennessee Titans football team.  

He was diagnosed with autism and other intellectual disabilities at 18 months old. Right away we started early intervention services like ABA (applied behavior analysis), speech, occupational and physical therapy so that he could have the best chance to reach his full potential. Those services proved vital in Jason’s progress! He was able to begin school at the age of three and honestly, he’s never looked back. Of course, he still has his struggles, but he has come so far. I couldn’t be more proud of the man he is becoming. Today, Jason is a senior in high school and will be on his way to college once he graduates. His 3.7 GPA makes me want to cry because he continues to overcome the hardships he faced in the beginning of his life.

I knew that something wasn’t quite right with Jason even before his diagnosis because he wasn't talking, but I never thought about autism. After the diagnosis, I immediately blamed myself because I had a very difficult pregnancy, suffering several seizures during those months. Jason didn’t talk until he was 8 and that was hard for me. I went through a deep depression because I felt that I had put a limit on Jason's life, but I eventually realized that with a little help, my son is not limited at all. He can do anything he sets his mind to and has so many unique gifts to share with the world.

My advice to other parents just beginning this journey is follow your tour guide, who in this case, is your child. Find the best route to take and prepare for a long ride with speed bumps and detours along the way. Set goals and never let anyone tell you they can't be accomplished. You are your child's best advocate. Ask questions, join support groups and be open to counseling when times get tough. An autism diagnosis isn't the end of the world for your child - it just makes them unique.

Learn more about Jason through his own words in this Spectrum Spotlight Q&A:

Meet Jason

How does your autism make you unique?

I can shoot three pointers from past half court. I have a very good memory. I can repeat and sing a song/movie after hearing it once or twice.

What struggles have you faced because of your autism? 

Many struggles. I didn’t talk until I was 8 years old. My mom and I were once removed from a hospital because of my sensitivity to noises and babies crying. I couldn't go into places with intercoms, so shopping was out of the question. There are a lot of things people take for granted that I can’t do.

In what areas has autism helped you excel?

I am very good at math, algebra and reading.

How has your family supported you through your autism journey? 

My family has been my support system. They always attend the Special Olympics and my basketball games. They even had shirts made and we call ourselves #TEAMJASON.

What are some of your proudest moments?

I made a three-point shot at the buzzer in my last 8th grade game. I got the name Mr. 3pt from teammates. I also have gold, silver and bronze medals from Special Olympics at the state level in track. I met Courtland Finnegan who used to play for the Tennessee Titans and went to dinner with him. I also have met some other Titans players and have their autographs!

Meet Jason

What are your some of your goals for the future?

My goal was always to get a regular education diploma and attend college. I’m reaching my goal in May when I will be graduating with honors.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with autism, wondering what the future holds?

My advice is don’t be ashamed of who you are. Never let anyone tell you no when it comes to you excelling and don’t quit.

What five words best describe you? 

I’m funny, happy, determined, friendly and affectionate.

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.