Meet Phil M.

Phil M., 30

“I guess you could say it’s perseverance at its finest"

A Diagnosis That Changed Everything

How Phil overcame adversity and embraced his authentic self.

“I guess you could say it’s perseverance at its finest.”

Until he was 15 years old, Phil didn’t know that he was on the autism spectrum. He spent most of his childhood struggling with social anxiety, which eventually led to poor attendance and failing marks in high school. It took Phil eight years and a transfer of schools to finally earn his diploma—an amazing accomplishment that he wasn’t sure he’d ever achieve. We're sharing Phil's story to help increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

The average age for autism diagnosis is between three and four years old. Early detection means early intervention, through which young people learn to manage the challenges the world presents them with help from coaches and their families.

But Phil didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of early detection. 

“School was particularly difficult… I would have panic attacks. I would get physically ill. I would cry, scream, fuss and refuse to get out of the car. That lasted all through high school,” Phil said to the audience at a congressional briefing on “Autism and Disparities: Addressing the Needs of Underserved Communities.”

Today, Phil is a thriving 30-year old who holds two jobs and takes care of his young son. He credits his introduction to Autism Speaks with kickstarting his transformation into the man he is today.

Phil M.

“Until the time I got introduced to Autism Speaks… I had no resources whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even tell anyone I was autistic because I didn’t think it was okay to be on the autism spectrum,” Phil says.

Phil’s experience with Autism Speaks helped him better understand what it means to be on the spectrum, and access resources that were available to him and others just like him. But what if there were more understanding and acceptance of people with autism in the first place? 

What if the world around Phil was a little more inclusive, a little kinder? How might Phil’s childhood have unfolded differently?

At Autism Speaks, we hope to answer those questions. Throughout 2020, our mission is to create a Year of Kindness, joining with our supporters to create a more inclusive and kind world. We believe that celebrating and encouraging acts of kindness will directly advance our mission by creating more understanding and acceptance for Phil and for all people with autism.

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.