We honor all kids on the autism spectrum on Autism Awareness Day. I think parents of these children know that autism isn't necessarily a negative -- it can be a gift. But we thought we'd spotlight a few autistic kids we think are especially inspiring. Meet five kids (and their parents) who believe in themselves and are willing to share their gifts with the rest of the world.
1. Artist Johnny Reisel. Johnny has astonishing drawing skills, specializing in cityscapes and buildings. His dad says, "He can draw New York or Chicago. Today he was doing Venezuela and Colombia, and you know, it like transports him to places, and his experiences, these images, and he draws them. It's like he's feeling those things and can go to those places that, you know, physically would be very difficult for him to do." Johnny shares his artwork with family and friends.
2. Carly Fleischman, co-author. Carly's doctors told her parents she'd never progress beyond the intellectual level of a 6-year-old. She couldn't speak. But at the age of 11, she began communicating by computer, and from that point on, there was no stopping her. She and her father published a book about her story called Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism.
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3. Jason McElwain, high school basketball manager. Jason took his passion for basketball to manage his school basketball team. But one day he actually entered the game. His first shot missed. But the next, and the next, and the next swished right into the basket. He scored 20 points from a long series of free-throws, making him the highest scoring player in the game, the first and only varsity game he ever played.
4. Christopher Duffley, singer. Follow the link to hear 10-year-old Christopher singing "Open the Eyes of My Heart." Now imagine being in his church congregation. He is also blind.
5. Eric Duquette, Salutatorian. When Eric was 5 years old, he couldn't speak, and his doctors told his parents he probably never would. Eric proved them wrong and graduated second from the top of his high school class. He delivered his high school graduation address. P.S.: he's also fluent in Spanish.
Do you have any inspiring stories about kids with autism to share?
Image via ABC News