Wheatland Center student explains living with autism to classmates

Shane McNealy, an eighth grade student at Wheatland Center School, spoke to Brenda Ciancio’s second grade class regarding autism, in recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month.

Shane was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, when he was 2. He spoke to all the students in the guidance and health classes because he wanted to make students more aware of what autism is, and how important it is to understand and celebrate people’s differences.

Shane described how having Asperger’s has been a struggle at times. He explained that the cause is most likely hereditary and that making friends, joining social groups, and sustaining eye contact is difficult, but having his senses heightened and being musically talented is a positive side of the syndrome.

Most of the students didn’t know what Asperger’s was before Shane’s presentation, but thought his sharing of his personal story describing the struggles as well as the accomplishments was very informative and definitely courageous.



  1. Tom Reilly says:

    Great feature. Sure gives one a great feeling about the courage these kids face every day.

  2. rah rah for SHANE! says:

    It is wonderful to see that he has a sense of self; There are some people who
    never attain that even in adulthood. To be able to explain it to peers, child peers at that is wonderful. The parental peers, in my opinion, should have been in attendance too. He’d be able to teach more than one generation that way! Hats off to those who advanced this topic and made it a ‘close human’ topic rather than a ‘distant book’ topic.

    Reilly hit is on the head. COURAGE!

    Shane’s parents and family should be very proud!

  3. Kathy McNealy says:

    Thank you so much for publishing this article! I hope that other schools will consider doing awareness speeches as well. Shane has come so far and we are so proud of him. Keep up the great work, Shane!

  4. Amy Donahue says:

    I had the pleasure and privilege to be Shane’s teacher when he was three years old until he was entering first grade. He is an amazing young man with a wonderfully supportive and dedicated family. Congratulations Shane on your many accomplishments! I know you will continue to do great things.

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