Art can be a powerful outlet, a great means of expressing yourself. This is certainly the case for Santino Stagliano, a 10-year-old boy from South Philly. Santino, who was diagnosed with autism 5 years ago, is called “The Dragon Master” by his little brother – in honor of Santino’s love of these fire-breathing creatures. And when Santino has a bad day, his parents buy him a plain white t-shirt so he can draw a picture of a dragon with markers – always a way to cheer him up.
On one particularly bad day last month – after getting teased by kids at the park – his parents bought him some shirts to draw on, and then Santino’s mom, Lisa, posted pictures of his creations on Facebook. The next day he had requests from a handful of people for shirts – then it turned into 50 requests, then 100, and continuing. Santino is selling them for $5 – he’s already sold 150 and has about 500 more on order.
Best of all, Santino – who chose to donate half the money he raises to the Center for Autism – has found a new sense of self-esteem with his shirt sales. As described by his dad, “There’s a little boy who wouldn’t look at you, he didn’t want to be touched…Now he’s hugging people, high-fiving and taking pictures.” Amazing!
This is one of those stories that starts out being heartbreaking, but the break gets healed in such an amazing way – it had to be shared!
Glenn Buratti – a 6-year-old in Florida ready to celebrate his birthday had invited over his classmates for a party. Glenn, who has autism, was so excited and – as detailed here – was counting down the minutes until his friends had arrived. But the party start time came and went, and not one guest had showed up.
Obviously terribly upset and frustrated, Glenn’s mom, Ashlee, decided to blow off some steam and posted on a local community Facebook page about what happened, saying “I know this might be something silly to rant about, but my heart is breaking for my son. We invited his whole class (16 kids) over for his 6th birthday party today. Not one kid came.” She wasn’t expecting anything in response…but she got an amazing one!
Within minutes, her community started responding with messages of support – and many were even asking to come over to give Glenn a second chance at the birthday party he wanted. And that afternoon, 15 kids and 25 parents showed up at their house to celebrate! Plus, a few days later, when Glenn came home from school, he was greeted by the local fire department and sheriff’s office – with tons of gifts in tow.
We may at times be faced with great sadness, but it’s stories like this that remind us true kindness and sense of community exists.
This amazing video was created by Michael Whary, an Ohio teen who is truly making a difference. Michael, who has autism, is working to become an Eagle Scout – and to do that, he needed to complete a service project that benefits the community. So he took the opportunity to create a video that aims to help parents of children with autism, sharing how autism doesn’t make him different, it makes him Michael.
And we can say we’re quite impressed! Also, speaking of achievements, not only is Michael working to become an Eagle Scout, he’s (as noted here), a member of his school’s track and field team, ROTC and marching band. (Keep in mind that Michael’s family was told that he would never ride a bike or drive a car – and you’ll see he can do both quite well!)