I’m an American with Autism. I was diagnosed at 2 years old. I remember not speaking for the first few years of my life as many individuals with a form of Autism can’t do so. But when I could start speaking, I could talk up a storm.
Going to school was hard for me. I remember opening up a bunch of Harry Potter books that were very popular at the time and never understood them. That was due to hard reading comprehension skills with Autism. It frustrated me and tutoring didn’t make it much better. No kids understood why I was weird or had a bad temper. It was due to my Autism and that’s why I had to have a lot of therapy growing up.
High school was a disaster due to a tough special education teacher who made my two biggest issues having Autism in school worse. She was also the school play director and that cost me good parts in the play. So I left high school not being cheered for by 400 people in an auditorium.
College was the best option for me to go forward there. I went to a local community college in my area. I started to finally make progress in my life when doing so. I got better at interacting with peers and academic curriculum. That ended up helping me graduate cum laude with all A’s and B’s. My college girlfriend inspired me to like Canadian country pop singer Shania Twain on one of our dates.
I remember going home that night and downloading some of her music on iTunes to check it out. I remembered 3 of her songs. Then I go on YouTube and watch some of her interviews. I was fascinated by that woman and everything about her. That made me dream of meeting her. I learned that she was performing shows in Las Vegas and will bring fans on stage during the shows. I asked my mom if she would take me to see her in Vegas as I’ve never been there. My mom responds “if you pay for it”. It would have been the perfect reward after a good college life.
So, with hard work at jobs over the years, I gambled $2,000 to go to Vegas to see a Shania Twain show with the goal of meeting her and being one of those fans. That $2,000 went toward fight, hotel, and concert tickets.
After a day and a half on the strip, it was showtime. I remember praying to God on one knee that I will meet Shania Twain tonight. I also remember walking out and telling my mom my plan to meet Shania. She says “Louis, don’t worry about getting on stage, not everyone can”.
Not my motivation.
I got to the show and the seats were exactly like I wanted. The 11th row and I’ll be on the end as I made my mom sit next to me. I remember her opening up the show on a motorcycle from the air and us pointing at each other. It felt like she connected with me. Because I even remember the first hug I got when she came down to the audience as she was hugging all the fans and shaking their hands.
Then the biggest moment happened. I got up out of my seat with a security guard right behind me to get up there. I told her I was from PA and she brings me up by saying “Come on up here Pennsylvania”. I told the audience I have Autism when I introduced myself and she looked shocked. She said I was fine and gave me a hug.
I got cheered for by 4000 people over 400 over that. She took MY hand after that and guided me to that stone. And as she was doing that, I told her she gave me the greatest night of my life.
I ended up sitting next to her for 3 songs and she even asked me my name. Shania gave me a reason to believe in myself to achieve anything. When that special education teacher/school play director didn’t believe in me, Shania did.
The way Shania treated me on that stage made me feel like I’m worthy of being someone. She changed my life for the better in so many ways. And because she’s from Canada, I’m honored to speak here!
This blog post was written by Louis Scarantino. Catch Louis at momondays Toronto, ON on 03/18/2019! Get your advance tickets here: Buy Tickets
Louis Scarantino is an American Autism Advocate. Writing articles, books, and giving speeches on his stories on the spectrum have been inspiring people worldwide. His biggest inspiration to spread Autism Awareness is his idol who is Canadian country pop singer Shania Twain. He writes for The Mighty, Thought Catalog, and has had articles published with Organization for Autism Research and other Autism blogs. He also heavily focuses on Autism and Dating in his advocating work! For more about Louis, visit http://www.louisscarantino.com.