Feature: Marcos Mata
Updated: Apr 12, 2019
My son Marcos is a very special individual for a bunch of reasons. Many of which have nothing to do with the fact that he is a person who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Marcos has always been someone to see the best in people. In fact, I think it is more accurate to say that he does not know how to see a person's faults. Every person that Marcos comes into contact with, has a clean slate. There are no presumptions of character, or judgments based on appearance, or speech. He is not capable of those things. Not because of his Autism, but because he is a beautifully good person. He always greets people with a smile, and a handshake. And he's genuinely interested in the details that make a person who they are. In other words, I don't think Marcos has ever met a person he didn't like. From the first, "Hi, I'm Marcos."
One of my favorite qualities about Marcos, is one that any dad could appreciate, I think. Marcos is a responsible and hard working person. From the time he was very young, and was given his first chores, he accomplished each one, everyday, without fail, and without complaint. That may sound far fetched, but it is very true. We started giving Marcos little tasks to complete around the house, like taking out the trash, or washing the dishes, and he always did them without a gripe, or a groan. And now, without prompting, he washes his clothes, he wakes up and gets ready for work, and even manages his own calendar (doctor's appointments and such) all on his own. Despite his disability, Marcos is probably more responsible than many normal functioning people his age. I realize it may not sound very impressive, but considering where Marcos started, and where he is now, it's a huge accomplishment.
As a toddler, Marcos was diagnosed as having a communication and speech delay, because he had not reached any of his speaking milestones appropriate for his age. Although the diagnosis sounded mostly correct, we did not feel it was entirely accurate because Marcos was demonstrating other behaviors that appeared a communication delay would not contribute to. Thank goodness my wife, Vanessa, pushed a little harder, and asked a lot more questions because Marcos would eventually be diagnosed as having Autism.
Once that happened, it was like a magic key had opened a door to a new world. The Autism diagnosis enabled his teachers to formulate lessons and goals to help Marcos meet his full potential. Marcos quickly went from being stuck in his own world, to joining our world, where we could see his abilities and personality blossom. Fast forward to today; Marcos does a pretty good job with conversation, can follow simple instructions, and accomplish tasks with out someone looking over his shoulder. Sure, he still has some difficulty here and there, but it does not keep him from enjoying life and being a good person.
Since he discovered social media, he keeps in touch with family better than most. Definitely better than I do. He's always telling family he loves them, and he misses them. Marcos is very good about keeping every one in the family current on all the new movie trailers. Plus, he's very festive, so every holiday on the calendar, Marcos is sure to send a message wishing you Happy St. Patrick's, or Happy Valentines, or Happy MLK day, on top of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and especially birthdays. Marcos loves birthdays, and you can always count on him to get in touch on your birthday.
I think the one thing that I find most impressive about Marcos is this. Although he may talk, or sound, a little different. Or even though, he might work a little slower, and take his time with some tasks. Marcos never, not once, has made an excuse for any of his delays. He has never, lost his temper over how difficult something is to understand, or how tough a particular piece of work was to finish. He has never complained about how unfair something was, or whether he did, or did not, have help. And more than anything. Marcos has never expressed, to any of us at least, about being scared, or anxious, about anything related to his Autism. But who could blame him if he did have those feelings. Regardless, not one complaint, not one excuse. Instead, Marcos smiles. He's always smiling.