Meet Miles W.

Miles W., 15

I like being me. I don’t care what other people think about me because I like being different.

Written by LaTonya W., Miles’ mom and Autism Speaks Walk Volunteer / Advocacy Ambassador

LaTonya and Miles

My son, Miles, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 6. He had been closely monitored by his pediatrician, child psychiatrist and school behavioral health personnel since he was three and a half years old. That’s around the time his speech seemed to be delayed and I noticed that he stopped hitting certain milestones.

When Miles first began showing signs of delays, my initial thoughts were of worry and fear. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I should be doing to support him, but I prayed a lot and asked the Lord to order my steps. I sought out speech and group speech therapies, as well as occupational therapy in school. Outside of school, I enrolled Miles in Tae Kwon Do, swimming and horseback riding because I thought engaging him in activities would help him develop self-regulation and large and fine motor skills. Access to these services and activities have benefited him greatly through the years.

As the mother of an African American male, I was lucky to have access to screening and the services available at the time. Miles’ pediatrician and other health care providers were attentive to my concerns and referred me to specialists to address those concerns. However, that is not always the case with other families. Disparities can exist in Black and Brown communities for a variety of reasons: cultural differences, lack of information, inability to accept a diagnosis, lack of financial resources to access therapies and systemic educational inequities.

My main goal for Miles is for him to become an independent young man who is self-sufficient and can manage day-to-day life successfully. To me, this looks like Miles successfully obtaining employment, furthering his education through a certification program or a two-year college, traveling abroad and continuing to build meaningful relationships with friends and family. Overall, my goal has always been to make sure he has the best quality of life.

To help people like Miles reach their full potential, I think there needs to be a greater focus on transition services for teens and young adults who have aged out of educational programs or community supports. Organizations like Autism Speaks need to continue to build relationships with companies to provide employment opportunities for people with autism and related conditions. I think it is an underserved area that needs immediate attention and partnership from the government, non-profit and business communities.

My advice to other parents out there navigating an autism diagnosis would be to simply breathe! News of a diagnosis can be life altering for the whole family. When you’re able to digest the information presented, do so in chunks. Read and research to better understand everything that is happening. Also, take into consideration everything that your child is going through mentally, physically and emotionally.

I’d also recommend seeking out support for yourself and your child. This is so important because as parents, we often forget that we don’t have to do this alone. Help can be in the form of other parents on the journey, support groups, organizations you may belong to, church or even work. I found support in many places, especially when Miles was younger, but eventually I found Autism Speaks in 2018. At the time, I was looking to affiliate with an organization that had a reputation of strong advocacy for the autism community, and Autism Speaks was the right fit for that.

In 2019, I applied to and was accepted to the Autism Speaks Advocacy Ambassadors Program. Through this connection, I have been an advocate for my son and the rest of the autism community at the federal level and I have had the opportunity to network with other autism families.

LaTonya began her journey as a team captain for the Baltimore Walk and has helped recruit more than 100 volunteers, 16 teams, 76 Walkers and raised more than $7,500 for the National Capital Area Autism Speaks Walk.

Learn more about Miles through his own words in this Q&A:

How does your autism make you unique?

I like being me. I don’t care what other people think about me because I like being different.

What struggles have you faced because of your autism?

I was bullied in the sixth grade and it really affected how I like school. My experience was really bad because I didn’t feel the teachers were listening when I told them there were problems.

In what areas has autism helped you excel?

Miles Comic

I love to create comic books about my own superheroes and stories. I also illustrate and color them. I think autism helps me to be creative in my own way.

What are some of your favorite things to do?

Miles and Mom LaTonya

I like to collect Lego sets and figures, particularly Batman/DC comic. I also love to travel! My favorite place to visit was Disney World. My mom took me on a Disney and Royal Caribbean Cruise. We go to the beach every year in the summer. I enjoy digging for seashells and swimming.

How has your family supported you through your autism journey?

My mom really helps me with school. She shows me how to advocate for myself. She supports my love of Legos and comic books. She helps me to understand being different is okay and that I don’t have to fit in, I can be myself.

What makes you most happy?

What makes me happy are sunny days and going outside to write comic books or play with my action figures. The other things that make me happy are watching old Batman episodes from 1966 and watching WWE wrestling.

What are some of your proudest moments?

Some of my proudest moments have been building a large Lego set in one day. 

What are your some of your goals for the future? 

My future goals are to collect Legos and hopefully one day become a Lego master. I also would like to become a famous movie writer and/or director, and comic author.

What five words best describe you?

Adventurous. Humorous. Creative. Focused. Thoughtful.

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.

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