AUTISM SPEAKS: Bandys freshman succeeds despite setbacks

Brandy Templeton
Staff Writer

Simon Teague might have autism, but autism doesn’t get the best of him.

As a first grader, Teague’s mother, Kristen, started seeing her son struggle with different tasks.

Kristen and her husband, Jeremy, had notice some slight developmental delays, but didn't recognize the severity.

She said Simon had problems walking and talking.

“We thought it was him being stubborn,” Kristen said.“It wasn't that he was not willing. He just didn't understand.”

Kristen said that Simon didn't understand how to process what his parents were asking of him.

At school, he didn't understand the material and was struggling with how to do his work.

“He was not able to do what he wanted to do and not being able to do what he needed to do,” she said.

Kristen said Simon would sometimes get angry at himself.

“His teacher came to us insinuating daily meltdowns,” Kristen said. “He just didn't know how to cope. They were seeing clues that we didn't put together.”

Working with both a private psychologists and having him tested through Catawba County Schools, Simon was diagnosed with Spectrum Disorder.

“It wasn't very clear to us because they didn't call it autism,” Kristen said. “They called it Pervasive Developmental Disorder — not otherwise specified.”

By sixth grade, Simon was fully diagnosed as having autism, but with the help of occupational and physical therapy, he’s overcome many of his previous setbacks and has excelled in most of his classes.

“He really enjoys taking life skills and robotics,”Kristen said.

Now a freshman at Bandys High School, Simon earned his learner’s permit and he’s been seen working concessions and collecting money at all of the Trojans boys and girls soccer games.

“Simon is a positive influence,” Simmons said. “He works hard and does not complain. He always does his best and is an inspiration to our program.”

Through soccer coach Mark Simmons, the Trojans organized a special Autism game, which was held Tuesday against rival Maiden.

Both teams wore blue socks in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

Simmons is hoping Tuesday’s game will help shed some light on the disorder that affects one in 68 children in the United States.

“We just want to raise awareness about autism and the people who live with it every day and their friends and family who love and support them,” Simmons said.