Inside the autistic mind of Boulder’s Benjamin Tarasewicz

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Benjamin Tarasewicz and his pet parrot
Benjamin Taraswewicz with his pet parrot.

Benjamin Tarasewicz does what some people with autism struggle to do: he talks about what it's like to live with the condition. For the last few years, the 20-year-old Boulder man has been speaking to groups about his autism, including a recent talk at a TEDx-CU youth event.

His mother Malva Tarasewicz has worked with him for years, helping him connect with others. She's the author of the book, "Benjamin Breaking Barriers: Autism -- A Journey of Hope." Benjamin and Malva spoke with Ryan Warner.

Benjamin Tarasewicz and his mother Malva
Benjamin Tarasewicz and his mother Malva.

Benjamin on life as a young child:

"When I was little, I didn’t feel interested in other people and I was really fixated on mechanical things a lot of the time ... like spinning objects."

Malva on her son as a baby:

"One of our saving graces ever since Benjamin was tiny he was just this totally huggable affectionate baby. So I’ve always had a very easy contact and connection with him ... If words didn’t do the trick, I was just able to hug him or hold him or through touch, communicate calm, and it’s going to be OK and I’m here."

Benjamin on the future:

"I want to give lots more presentations and I want to always be in at least one community choir and work part-time in different situations."

Malva about expectations:

"Being realistic, most people with autism continue to need at least some form of support and supervision. One thing is just the slowness of activity completion. So if I was just to set Benjamin off on his own and expect him to cook all the meals a day that he needs to eat and get the laundry done and keep the house clean, that would be pretty much the full time job. There would be no time left to do anything else."

Malva's advice for parents of children with autism:

"The very first thing I would say, don’t get stuck in denial. There is so much hope, there is so much that so many of these kids could accomplish that you’d never think they could do if you got stuck on where they’re at right now and in the direness of the diagnosis. If I had sort of said, 'Oh, Benjamin is so severely affected when he was little' and 'Oh my gosh! There’s not much hope, [then] he wouldn’t be where he is today. You just don’t know what your child may be able to do unless you reach for the stars and at the same time you have to accept and love your child for who they are."

This story first aired on May 4, 2015.