A Brief But Spectacular take on adapting to new challenges while living with autism

Judy Woodruff:

Pierce and Melissa McKay are a mother and son living in Brentwood, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville.

When the COVID pandemic began, the McKays found themselves without the vital school and community resources needed to navigate life for Pierce as an autistic adult.

Tonight, they share their Brief But Spectacular take on adapting to new challenges while living with autism.

Pierce McKay, Son of Melissa McKay: My name is Pierce McKay. And I’m 24 years old, and I’m autistic.

Melissa McKay, Mother of Pierce McKay: When Pierce was diagnosed with autism, it was good to finally have a diagnosis.

And then, at the same time, you have this idea of what they’re going to be like when they grow up. And it changed a lot with that diagnosis.

When Pierce was younger, there was still a lot of misconceptions. One is that they’re not social. Pierce a very social person. He loves being with people. We knew that Pierce’s autism was a little more serious than we at first thought when he went missing one day when he was 12 years old. He was on his bike riding laps around the house. And then I walked outside and saw that he was just gone.

We had to call 911. Eventually, he was found riding his bike on I-65.

It’s OK. Were you thinking about being on your bike?

He’d never wandered away from the house before. So it was — it was terrifying.

In 2020, Pierce was finishing the transition program at Brentwood High School, working on life skills, and had gotten him into a job.

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