Meet Klemente C.
Although he has limited speech, I promise you if you speak to him, he WILL make you smile or laugh.
Hi, Autism Speaks! My name is Karrie, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to speak about my 17-year-old son, Klemente. Autism Speaks has helped me to realize that I’m not alone as an autism mom, so the chance to share my son’s story with the community means a lot.
Klemente is a senior in high school in El Paso, Texas and I’m so proud of him because WE MADE IT! I say “we” because it’s been a journey for all of us, and with my son’s resilient spirit and the grace of God, he’s on his way to accomplishing something special – graduating high school! I’m a single mom without much support, so working with schools and making sure Klemente is receiving the type of support he deserves has been difficult at times.
When he was first diagnosed, I thought to myself, “what did I do to cause this?” I placed a lot of blame on myself. I think that drive to fight for him and others like him will always burn inside me. I will always be there to make sure he is part of all school activities and feels included as a member of the community. Every time I have to fight for those things, I cry because it’s sad that we have to do that as parents. But each time, I wipe my tears and push forward because I know when he walks across that stage on graduation day with his diploma, it’ll all be worth it.
On top of everything he’s accomplished in school, Klemente also recently played soccer at the state level in the Special Olympics and helped his team win the gold medal. He scored his first goal, which turned out to be the winning goal in the championship game. I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes this winter during basketball season – knowing him, he’ll do big things!
Klemente was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, and although he has limited speech, I promise you if you speak to him, he WILL make you smile or laugh. Years of speech and occupational therapies have certainly helped him express himself and communicate his emotions. He’s full of life, proud of who he is and always has a huge smile on his face. It’s that smile that keeps me going and reminds me of why we were blessed with one another.
I just want the world to see him the way I see him – a proud, young Puerto Rican man who can do anything he puts his mind to.
Learn more from Klemente about his autism journey in this Q&A, asked via his mother and answered on paper in his own writing:
How has autism shaped you into the person you are today?
Made me strong and brave.
Can you talk about your involvement in Special Olympics? What is it about sports that you love?
I love baseball, but I played soccer and basketball in Special Olympics. It’s fun to play with my friends and make new friends.
When facing new challenges and life changes in school, playing sports, etc., how do you cope with the anxieties that can come along with that?
I listen to music. I have Beats headphones in lots of colors. They are my favorite. I love listening to Reggaeton.
When you reflect on your life to this point, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I never give up on anything I do. I’m proud of my Puerto Rican heritage.
What things about yourself do you want to work on?
Talking to people more. Making more friends.
What are some things you wish everyone understood better about people with autism?
We are good people! We love life. We want to be included.