GRAFTON, Ohio -- For every 50 boys that are born in the United States, one of them will be diagnosed with autism. For every 100 Boy Scouts, only one will become an Eagle Scout.
Michael Whary is a bright and energetic 16-year-old sophomore who is a member of the track and field team, ROTC, and even the marching band at Midview High School. To add to the list, Whary is a Boy Scout who is working to complete his application to be an Eagle Scout. To balance all of these actives is impressive, but add that he has autism to the list and suddenly Michael Whary becomes astounding. To become an Eagle Scout, one must complete a service project that benefits the community. Whary took the project to heart and decided to make a video to help parents of children with autism. The idea for his project came during a trip to the hospital:
"One of the EMTs said he admired my patience and how well I could cope," Whary said. "He had just recently found out that his nephew was diagnosed with autism. He later caught up with us in the parking lot and told me how I gave him hope that his nephew would be OK. It was that conversation that sent me on this journey."
In his 13-minute video project, he shares how autism does not make him different; it makes him Michael. The same boy who doctors said wouldn't drive a car, motorcycle, or even ride a bike, is cruising around in a limo and shooting across the field in an ATV.
"We wanted to express that boys and girls who have autism can be happy," said Judi Whary, Whary's mother.
"They will have friends, be able to work and hold down jobs. Those are the things you worry about as a parent when you find out your child has autism."
Unlike other videos explaining autism from a child's perspective, Whary created the video from a parent's point of view.
"Deep down in my heart, I want to improve the way parents respond to having a child with autism," he said.
"They should be treated like regular kids. It's about helping these kids come into the light. They need to know that it's not their fault and they're not alone."