+
More

A 9-year-old just perfectly broke down what living with autism is like for him.

A 9-year-old just perfectly broke down what living with autism is like for him.

This article originally appeared on 12.07.17


George Yionoulis is pretty much your typical 9-year-old.

The fourth-grader from Raleigh, North Carolina, loves "Harry Potter," making art, and eating tacos.

Oh, and he loooooooves dancing. The kid has some serious moves.


While it's pretty easy to understand why George loves tacos (who doesn't?), there are some things George does that aren't quite as easy for people to understand. That's because when was 2 years old, his parents discovered has an autism spectrum disorder.

George's autism makes it harder for his classmates at Douglas Elementary School to relate to him. So he used a class project to help them understand him a little better.

George wrote, narrated, edited, and produced a video called "My Autism" and even created an original score to accompany the six-minute clip.

"Hi, everybody. My name is George," George begins his voiceover as text reading "GEORGE ... and AUTISM" flashes across the screen before cutting to footage of George dancing.

"Let me tell you a little about myself," he continues. "I have fun dancing, I have fun making music, I love to draw and make art, and ... wait for it ... I have this thing called autism."

In the video, George shares some of his unique quirks — things he knows his classmates have noticed about him but maybe haven't had the courage to ask about.

Like the fact that he has trouble making eye contact with people when they speak to him, though he says he's gotten better about it. "I might not have been looking, but that didn't mean I wasn't listening," he explains.

"Speaking of listening," he continues. "I can hear and see a lot of things and sounds all at the same time, which sometimes makes it hard to focus on any one sound or thought. That's why it might take a little more time to answer you when you ask a question."

He also has trouble with metaphors and figures of speech, which is common for kids with autism, and advises his classmates to be as literal and clear with him as possible.

"If you say 'take a seat,' you might find one less chair in your classroom," he jokes.

George also opens up about some of the challenges he faces and hopes the video will help his friends understand why he sometimes gets angry, cries, or yells."

I sometimes get frustrated when I get interrupted or when something doesn't go as planned," he admits. "Or when something unexpected happens. Or when I make a mistake."

In a courageous peek behind the curtain, George even includes video of himself — at a much younger age — throwing a tantrum at a book reading as well as audio of himself stumbling with his words while recording the narration for the video and becoming audibly frustrated. "But I messed up!" he cries.

"(Some of those) are just kid things to get frustrated about, and I'm a kid just like you," he says. "All us kids are different in our own ways, right?"

At the end, George asks his classmates to come talk to him, ask him questions, or invite him to play — even if it seems like he might not want to.

"I like having fun, just like you. So if you ever see me playing by myself, it doesn't necessarily mean I don't want to play with you, too," he tells them. "I always want to play with you."

His heartwarming honesty and larger-than-life on-screen personality are so compelling, it's no wonder the video has gone viral. Shortly after the video went up on YouTube and Facebook, it racked up tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments.

Initially, it was only meant for George's 21 elementary school classmates.

"The feedback we're getting is, 'I showed this to my 6-year-old who has autism, I showed this to my 12-year-old who has autism,' and they're going, 'Me too, and we could be friends!'" his mother, Lisa Jolley told Raleigh-Durham's WTVD/ABC11.

In a world where people with autism aren't often given the chance to speak for themselves, it's both really cool and really significant that George has taken control of his own life story and experience and is sharing them in his own words. At only 9 years old, he's already making huge strides in helping the world better understand a condition that affects about 1 in 68 kids in the United States.

Watch the full video below, and you'll probably learn something new yourself.

At the very least, you're bound to fall in love with this charming and courageous kid.

My Autism - by George

George's journey with autism at 9 years old. This is the video he shared with his fourth grade class to help them understand why he behaves the way he does...

Courtesy of Molly Simonson Lee

Flight attendant sits on floor to comfort passenger

Not everyone enjoys flying. The level of non-enjoyment can range from mild discomfort to full blown Aerophobia, which is defined as an extreme fear of flying. While flying is the quickest way to get to far away destinations, for some people being that far off the ground is terrifying and they'd rather take their chances on the ground.

A passenger flying from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina to JFK International Airport in New York confronted that fear while flying with Delta. The woman, who is currently still unidentified expressed that she was nervous to fly according to Molly Simonson Lee, a passenger seated behind the woman who witnessed the encounter. Tight spaces don't make for much privacy, but in this case, the world is better for knowing this took place.

According to Lee, who posted about the exchange on Facebook, the Delta flight attendant, Floyd Dean-Shannon, took his time to give the nervous traveler his undivided attention. Lee told Upworthy the unidentified passenger, "was very nervous and even before the plane took off, she was visibly shaken by each sound."

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

U.S. finally renames public sites to replace a racist term for Native American women

"Words matter, particularly in our work to ensure our nation's public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds," said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

The Department of Interior has renamed hundreds of national geographic features that include racist language.

Names matter.

That's the message from the Department of the Interior as it works to replace the names of public lands that are outdated at best and outright offensive at worst.

In November 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland—the first Native American person to serve as a cabinet secretary in U.S. history—established a task force to review the names of the nation's geographic features and replace the ones that include racist and derogatory terminology.

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

Gen X advice for Gen Z: Woman shares the things she wishes 'somebody told me in my twenties’

'You date people you think you deserve. You deserve better.'

Gen Xer shares some timeless advice for Gen Z.

Meghan Smith is the owner of Melody Note Vintage store in the eternally hip town of Palm Springs, California, and her old-school Gen X advice has really connected with younger people on TikTok.

In a video posted in December 2022, she shares the advice she wishes that “somebody told me in my twenties” and it has received more than 13 million views. Smith says that she gave the same advice to her partner's two daughters when they reached their twenties.

The video is hashtagged #GenX advice for #GenZ and late #millennials. Sorry older millennials, you’re too old to receive these pearls of wisdom.

Keep ReadingShow less
Science

Ecologist 'burst into tears' seeing endangered gliders using boxes designed to save them

A third of the greater gliders' remaining habitat was destroyed in the Australian wildfires, and researchers didn't know if their high-tech box idea would work.

Greater gliders are endangered in Australia and rely on old-growth tree hollows to make their nests.

When a team of Australian researchers started checking the high-tech boxes they'd installed to help save endangered greater gliders, they weren't sure what they were going to find. The hope was that the tree-dwelling marsupials would use them for nesting—a replacement for the tree hollows they normally nest in—but no one knew whether or not the creatures would take to them.

So when Dr. Kita Ashman, Threatened Species and Climate Adaptation Ecologist at WWF-Australia, found a glider in the second box she checked, she was thrilled.

"I just burst into tears, I was so surprised and so happy," she told ABC News Australia.

Keep ReadingShow less

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Biggs and the things that were "awful" in the '80s.

Rosy retrospection is a cognitive bias that all humans share. It alters our perception of the past by making us feel that it was better than it actually was. While there’s nothing wrong with looking back at the past fondly, it also leads people to think that the future will be worse, leading to a bias known as declinism.

We see these biases play out in the real world when politicians call for America to return to a perfect past that never happened. Or when older people criticize the younger generation for being lazy, entitled and weak.

Chris Biggs, one-half of Ottawa, Canada’s Biggs & Barr show on Chez 106.1 is doing his part to remind people that the ‘80s weren’t that great in a series of viral TikTok posts. The comedian recently put out four videos about “things from an '80s childhood that were awful.”

Keep ReadingShow less