Updated: Apr 6, 2019
I have a very specific memory of an autumn night dating back to the second grade, sitting at the kitchen table across from Giulio and my mother. I had just finished my homework for the night, while my big brother Giulio still had a long way to go. I remained at the table poring over the contents of my favorite new accessory: a pocket-sized Merriam Webster dictionary, as it was a custom habit of mine to spend at least forty-five minutes to an hour each night after completing my homework attempting to teach myself new vocabulary words (-for fun, as a hobby; I was a strange kid). Meanwhile, my brother sat stiffly across from me with his eyebrows stitched together, a look of sheer panic over his face. He stared into the looseleaf paper as if it were a chasm into the abyss. My mother beside him, with a temple resting on the edge of her left palm, pointed to the page in front of him, and said, “Now, next line, write: ‘and I am from Middletown, New Jersey. J-E-R-S-E-Y.’” Giulio gripped the pencil as if his life depended on it, and painstakingly scraped each word onto the page as if he were trying to engrave them into the kitchen table. I could hear my mother’s saintly patience slowly disintegrating into the air each time she spoke to guide Giulio through the next step. His fourth-grade homework assignment was simple: write a paragraph about yourself. A paragraph. By the time I was on my last vocabulary word for the night, Giulio had completed two sentences. I looked up from my dictionary through my fringy bangs and thought, “There has to be another way.”
As a parent, your primary instinct is to behave like a parent; the "worried parent" approach. As a medical professional, your primary instinct is to behave like a medical professional; the clinical approach. But as a best friend, your primary role is to simply want the best for the other person, by exploring who they are inside and out...It is the soil of accelerated growth.
Today, my big brother Giulio is 115 pages into his second full-length screenplay. He spends most of his time conducting and reporting research for his current film projects, composing storyboards, and writing and producing short stop-motion films. He has a beautiful website that he built completely on his own where showcases his portfolio of works and features a detailed “About Me” page. He has plans to transfer to film school after completing his associates degree. He excels in his English and Theater classes. Giulio is also a poet: in fact his poem: Autism is registered with an official license of copyright by the United States government. In fourth grade, it would take my brother Giulio an entire hour to compose of a four-sentence paragraph, while my mother had to literally sit beside him for the duration of that hour, and walk him through the process step by step. Now, writing is Giulio’s driving force in life. Autism posed many such challenges for Giulio, but he has defied the odds of what anyone thought was ever capable for him.
According to the general population, Giulio is what is often referred to as a ‘slow learner’. However, I emphasize the distinction between the general population's surface-based understanding of Giulio's condition, versus my personal opinion on the matter, according to twenty years spent by Giulio's side, closely observing his every action. I look up to Giulio in the hyper-attentive way that siblings look up to one another. I find that our relationship keeps us in tune to each other in a very unique way. As the loving little sister and best friend to my big brother Giulio, I would like to think that I am the only person in the world who knows Giulio best. As a parent, your primary instinct is to behave like a parent; the "worried parent" approach. As a medical professional, your primary instinct is to behave like a medical professional; the clinical approach. But as a best friend, your primary role is to simply want the best for the other person, by exploring who they are inside and out. The "genuine love" approach. It is the soil of accelerated growth. The distinction that I would like to make is that Giulio is NOT slow: he simply has a different way of learning.
What was the turning point in Giulio’s life? What was it that had him go from panicking when assigned to write a four-sentence paragraph, to writing poetry, short films, and full length screenplays? I was there to witness the change. Giulio had always loved movies and films and cartoons, but never school. However one day I suggested to him, “Giulio, how about you write as if it is a scene happening in a movie? Instead of thinking step one: talk about this. Step two: talk about that. Ask yourself: if I were a character, what would I say next?” It was like I took a stick of dynamite to the floodgates in his mind, and gave way to a revolution. Suddenly, Giulio began to focus profusely on his writing, inspired by the motivation of writing for a screen. He began refining and honing his writing skills. He practiced writing for hours on end, because now he had discovered a way to enjoy it.
It is thrilling and rewarding to be Giulio’s little sister, and to see how far he has come in the face of adversity. He is the most inspiring person I have ever met in my life. He has a positive attitude and has made great strides in his life to become the dynamic, wildly successful individual who he is today.
Sofia Bianchi is the founder of Ausome and the sister to #Giulio. She interns at OASIS tlc, a non-for-profit autism organization in New Jersey providing education and life skills workshops for young adults with autism. Sofia believes that the world can benefit tremendously by coming together to cater towards the global autism and learning disabilities community. More on Sofia's mission under the Ausome Mission Statement.