All too often, people view autism as a tragic disability that is impossible to live with. Yes, there are some forms of the disease that can severely inhibit a life, but this is not always the case. Aspergers is a high-functioning form of autism and an increasingly common disorder. While living with Aspergers does have its’ challenges, it can also act as a reminder that life does not always have to be so serious. Joy can be found where you least expect it.
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This message is exemplified in “Nerdicus (My BrotherWith Autism)”, a one-act play written by West Springfield High School drama teacher, Bernie DeLeo. “Nerdicus” is about a boy living with Aspergers and the effect it has on his sister. The play shows people that it can be funny, not tragic, to have a child with autism. Based off of DeLeo’s personal experience with his own children, the play was written mostly from his daughter Sophie’s point of view.
“Nerdicus” takes its’ viewers through the progressive journey of Sophie as she was forced to deal with her “odd” brother during the already painful high school years. As she grows older, Sophie develops a deeper appreciation for her “goofy” brother and is able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what it’s like to have a disability.
DeLeo cast Austin Morrison, a student who has Aspergers, as the lead role- a character that is relatable. “That’s kind of the point of the play: If you give students on the spectrum a chance, they can do just as well as other student,” DeLeo said. The play earned West Springfield High School a trip back to the Virginia High School League state championships where it finished in third place.
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