TUALATIN, Ore. — On a recent school day at Tualatin High School, junior Emiliano Mateos sat in his film class and worked on his latest class project.
"Today, I would like to discuss Autism Awareness Month," Mateos said, speaking into his cell phone's microphone.
April is Autism Awareness month and Mateos, who is autistic, thought it was the perfect time to help educate people about autism. His class project is a film focused on what autism is, and he encourages autistic students to advocate for themselves.
"Telling people what you need. What you require and what you want," Mateos said, talking about autistic students communicating their needs to their teachers.
Mateo's film will be shown in each classroom at Tualatin High.
Andrea Schmidt is a learning specialist at Tualatin High School. Schmidt is proud that Mateos wanted to share his film with other students and staff members.
"That's where his idea originated from, wanting to advocate for himself and others who live with autism," Schmidt said. "[He] found ways to amplify the diverse needs of students and bringing awareness to different disabilities and different unique needs."
Mateo received permission to record interviews with people living with autism. He asked fellow student Marc about what autism means to him.
"Just because somebody has this disability thing doesn't mean that people should make fun of them," Marc said.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that can influence a person's needs when it comes to social interaction, communication, relationships and self-regulation, according to the Autism Society of Oregon.
"Please don't see me as differently, see me as an equal," Mateos said. "If you already do, then good for you."