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Autistic teen shares personal story via YouTube

December 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Autism presents itself in many different degrees and in different forms. While many people are aware of autism, many people really don't understand what it means to live with the developmental disorder. That's why a new video created from the heartfelt words of a young man with autism is taking on a life of its own.

David Shapiro Sharif, 15, is the real kid with autism in an insightful animated short film titled "My Name is David." The video,

His words and voice caught the attention of Autism Speaks Executive Director Matt Asner.

"I was bowled over by his speech," Asner said. "This was such an unbelievable description of what autism is and there was so much maturity in his speech."

As soon as Asner heard David talk, he got an idea. Asner contacted his good friend and animator Matt Manning, who helped David's speech take on animated form.

"We wanted to make something that entertained people and taught them something," Asner said.

While editing, they felt the message come to life.

"During that process, you know when we were listening to it over and over again, people started to tell me, 'this is really powerful,'" Manning said.

David's mom, Karen Shapiro, says her son's effort to share his experiences has helped him triumph and see that he is far from alone in his challenges.

"The power of saying who you are and helping people understand who you are was magical," Karen said.

David's parents believe their son's message is not just about understanding people with autism. As David eloquently says, it's about understanding people.

"Always get along with people you don't like, it's just part of life," David said. "Always remember I can be with people I don't like as long as they treat me with respect."

David's ultimate goal is to get a job and live independently in New York City.

Matt Asner says the video was aimed at the general population, but says many parents who have kids with autism are using it to help educate their children.


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