Hello, my name is Elio Bonelli. I am 19 years old and I was born on the 6th November 2001. I am from Rosegreen, Co. Tipperary and I am of Italian descendancy hence my name. I am on the autism spectrum and have been since my early diagnosis in 2006. I am also studying Journalism in TU Dublin which may come as a surprise to many, but autism does not hinder my hopes of someday becoming a radio or TV presenter. I would consider Daithi O’ Shea as my inspiration and hero because of his likeable and loved personality especially towards people.
While autism certainly has its downs, autism, in my opinion, is NOT a DISability but rather an Ability to do things others might not be able to do. For example, I can read an individual’s body language and facial expressions like a book. I can empathise and connect to people easier and better just by looking and reading at a particular person. Therefore, I can form friendships and bonds with people that may not have many friends. I find this ability very useful as I have made many new friends in college and in my workplace in McDonald’s in Cashel, Co. Tipperary.
At a very early age, in fact when I was just five years old, I was tested and evaluated by a professional doctor to try and understand why I was so fidgety, losing concentration easily and quiet. Eventually, they came back with a diagnosis of Autism. I went to primary school in Presentation Primary School in Clonmel where I received special speech and language education. I received this education until I was around nine years old where I went back to primary school in Rosegreen for the duration of my primary school days. The speech and language class that I was in helped me enormously. I was finally able to learn certain techniques to help with concentration, people skills and lifelong positive habits. However, my autism still caused problems throughout my life and today, it still does.
My own mental health is a core focus for me. Because of Autism, I have found stressful situations……well, stressful! I also find that loud noises, flashing lights and a sense of loneliness stresses me out a lot. In secondary school, I went and was admitted into an AS class; affectionally called ‘Room 20’ where I received help and support by SNA’s and teachers throughout my six years in Cashel Community School.
Nowadays, I still find certain situations very stressful, but I have harnessed the power to use my AS diagnosis to good use such as those in which I mentioned above. At the end of the day, being autistic does not mean being disabled or inferior to anybody else, it just means that you have special and unique talents that no one else has. You are special and amazing! Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise!