The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Talent show is truly Something Special
BY MICHAEL ZITZ
Noah Klotz’s imitation of Curly Howard from “The Three Stooges” had the crowd roaring with laughter at Saturday’s first annual Something Special Talent Show for kids with disabilities.
Klotz, a 10-year-old student at Robert E. Lee Elementary in Spotsylvania County, has Asperger’s syndrome—an autism spectrum disorder that affects social and coping skills. But he likes to make people laugh, and eagerly dove in when he had a chance to perform.
He was one of about 30 kids who took the spotlight. All received awards.
Carmen and Bill Klotz, were grateful for their son’s opportunity.
“To him, it’s just something fun to do,” Carmen Klotz said. “He makes me laugh every day. Kids are not always nice to him, but he never has a bad day.”
But event organizer Jaimie Petty of Spotsylvania, the mother of two children with Asperger’s who performed, knows that the days are not always filled with laughter for many families of children with disabilities.
A little girl froze when her turn to sing a song came. Celebrity judge Cindy “Rodeo” Steedle of the reality show “Rock of Love” saved the day by rushing forward, kneeling next to the little girl and singing “We Are Our Heroes” with her. Steedle has launched a national anti-bullying campaign.
Another judge, State Sen. Bryce Reeves, called it “a phenomenal event and an important one,” and said he plans to work with Steedle to help children with disabilities.
Petty said having a child on the autism spectrum can mean that instead of celebrating when developmental milestones such as speaking a first word or taking a first step typically take place, families are grieving. She said the event was intended to give children with disabilities and their families a chance to celebrate.
“I want people to know what’s possible if they don’t give up.”
Because she refused to give up, her son Bryce Petty, a 12-year-old student at Thornburg Middle School, has been through nearly 3,000 hours of speech, occupational and even equine therapy, she said.
He delivered a triumphant speech at the event, saying that while he may not be able to understand all the things that others can, he can understand some things that they cannot.
“My theory,” Jaimie Petty said, “is that if we get the kids out there and people to understand that you don’t have to be in a wheelchair to have a disability, and that autism is not contagious, then people will realize it’s like the kids themselves say, ‘it just is what it it is.’”
Michael Zitz 540/846-5163
Boy’s speech offers insight into Asperger’s
Bryce Petty of Spotsylvania County is sharing what it’s like to have Asperger’s Syndrome—an autism spectrum disorder that affects social and coping skills.
The 12-year-old delivered the following speech, “What Autism Means to Me” at Saturday’s Something Special Talent Show for kids with disabilities at the Fredericksburg Field House :
Well, it means that people don’t get me or understand me.
When people tell jokes, I don’t laugh. Is it me, or is it my autism? Could I really have funny friends?
People think I don’t listen, or that I am rude because I don’t look at them. Just because I’m not looking doesn’t mean I’m not listening!
Autism means a lot of meetings at school. I do not know why my autism is so hard to understand.
I don’t like loud noise. I see things the way they are, and I don’t want to be around a lot of people, but I love my family.
I like to touch things. That’s how I learn.
I don’t understand why people make weird faces and give me looks when they want to say something.
Why don’t regular people say what they mean?
A lot of kids like me get lost. That used to worry my mom, but now we have Project Lifesaver to find us.
A lot of my friends with autism have brothers and sisters with autism. I have one named Mikey.
Unlocking their future is what we do to help people with autism telling them not to give up because my mom didn’t give up on me. It’s lot of hard work. We go to children’s therapy and they really know how to help kids.
People say I’m a cool guy, but I’m just Bryce!
I like Lego Star Wars and my shows. Give me my sensory bag and I can take on anything.
Autism means people stare at me and they even talk about me they wonder why I don’t look at them. Why do they talk about me? I may be a messy eater and get dressed slowly and understand like you. But you don’t understand like I do.
—Bryce Petty, 12-year-old Thornburg Middle School student
Michael Zitz 540/846-5163