A 9-year-old boy’s self-narrated video about life with autism has now gone viral on the internet.
George Yionoulis, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, opens up about living with autism and reassures others that “I’m a kid just like you.”
“I have fun dancing, I have fun making music, I love to draw and make art and, wait for it … I have this thing called autism,” he explains in the video, first posted last week.
Throughout the video, George expresses the different ways in which autism impacts him the most, edited with a mix of home videos and pictures.
The video was originally made to be shared with his 21 classmates in the fourth-grade class at Douglas Elementary, but his mother, Lisa Jolley, told ABC News “it has been really amazing” to see how far beyond the walls of the classroom the video has reached since it was first posted.
George said in the video that he didn’t speak until he was 3 years old, but he has made up for lost time. George, or Geo Geo as he sometimes goes by, creates and hosts at-home geometry lesson videos in which he teaches and talks about various math topics.
“When he did speak, it showed us that for almost three years it’s like he had the record button pressed, because when he started speaking it was like someone finally hit play,” Jolley said. “It was all in there and just decided to come out.”
One difficulty George explains is focusing on single sounds or thoughts and trying to process conversations, especially if they take place in a loud environment. He said it may just take him a little more time to answer people.
“I also tend to take what people say literally, that means if you say take a seat you might find one less chair in your classroom,” he explained. “If you’re very specific when you talk to me, everybody wins.”
George says that he is extremely enthusiastic about many things and that when he experiences a heightened sense of excitement, he flaps his hands or bounces up and down.
The tools to help him focus include chewing gum and wearing headphones, but he admits he does sometimes get frustrated when things don’t go as he’d planned. But he will take a moment to breathe, calm himself down and find his words.
Jolley said that for her and her husband, Mike Yionoulis, “It’s like you’re solving a different puzzle every day and there’s a lot of pieces.” But the proud parents added that George “is utter joy and is a light to everyone he comes into contact with.”
He loves Harry Potter, Minecraft and tacos, but hates yogurt — none of which have to do with his having autism and more to do with just being a 9-year-old kid.
“I’m a kid just like you, ’cause all us kids are different in our own ways, right?” he says.
He also encourages other kids to come ask him about autism, which Jolley said was her favorite part. “Don’t be afraid to come ask me about it — no seriously, it’s OK, just come ask me about it.”
George created all of the music for the video himself using a computer program, and his dad edited everything together.
Since the video was posted on YouTube Nov. 27, it has been viewed over 22,000 times.
“Everyone’s falling in love with what we already know about him,” Jolley said.