Amid the summer months we check in with John, a fifth-grader with autism. John shares his summer plans with us, along with what he wishes his classmates knew about autism.
00:00:00 Johnandrew Slominski
Hi, everybody. Johnandrew Slominski, your host here, welcoming you back to another episode of the Autism Annex Podcast. Many of us are preparing for the new school year with big picture talk curriculum and learning goals and such. And of course, the nitty gritty of classroom organizing, making schedules and yet another round of photocopies. All this preparation, though—the meetings, the photocopying—is really for one single purpose: the students. After all, they are the ones who make this whole enterprise tick.
00:00:36 Johnandrew Slominski
So on today's episode we hear from one such young person. My 5th-grader guest is hopeful that other kids understand something about autism, all the while knee-deep in taking summer beach trips and playing Mario Kart. You'll even get a Mario Kart quiz in a moment, so stick around.
00:00:57 Johnandrew Slominski
My guest, Mr. John Perezchica Jr.
00:01:00 John Perezchica
Hi, my name is John Perezchica, Jr.
00:01:05 Johnandrew Slominski
And John, where do you go to school?
00:01:08 John Perezchica
5th grade, at Kennedy.
00:01:12 Johnandrew Slominski
For you geography buffs, that's Kennedy elementary in Lindsay, CA, about an hour north of Bakersfield. And John, who do you have with you today?
00:01:23 John Perezchica
00:01:25 Sarah Rooney
My name is Miss Rooney. I work with John here at Kennedy.
00:01:30 Johnandrew Slominski
John, what's the most exciting thing that you're doing this summer
00:01:36 John Perezchica
I'm excited about this summer, about going to the beach and playing lots of video games.
00:01:43 Johnandrew Slominski
What's your favorite video game?
00:01:46 John Perezchica
00:01:47 Johnandrew Slominski
And what sorts of things do you like to do in Minecraft?
00:01:52 John Perezchica
Build tracks for Mario Kart.
00:01:55 Johnandrew Slominski
In case you didn't catch it, John likes to build tracks for Mario Kart, and if you don't know John, you'll soon learn how important this is.
00:02:04 Johnandrew Slominski
John, you made a YouTube video for Autism Acceptance Month this last year. I was wondering, what does autism mean to you?
00:02:14 John Perezchica
What autism means is like, it’s when kids have superpowers and and help their brain think.
00:02:24 Johnandrew Slominski
Well, as a kid with autism, do you have superpowers?
00:02:26 John Perezchica
00:02:30 Johnandrew Slominski
00:02:32 John Perezchica
Super Sonic hearing. It's not helpful because because it when it's fireworks are on or like, and it went forever, it goes really, really, really loud.
00:02:47 Johnandrew Slominski
Well, as anyone with superpowers will tell you, they do indeed come with some drawbacks. So, John, what other superpowers do you have?
00:02:58 John Perezchica
It's masterful memory. I can remember things clearly.
00:03:06 Johnandrew Slominski
OK. Like, give me an example of something you remember super, super clearly.
00:03:13 John Perezchica
My day, my birthday. And my day when I was born, I was born, on May 26, 2011.
00:03:23 Johnandrew Slominski
I heard from your teacher that you also have a superpower called perpetual automatic brain activation. That sounds like a lot. Can you explain that one to me?
00:03:34 John Perezchica
It's when I'm focused one thing and I'm but the second thing, I'm not focused.
00:03:41 Johnandrew Slominski
Focusing on one thing, but not on a second thing. Got it. So John, big question. What do you think kids should know about autism?
00:03:53 John Perezchica
They should know that kids can learn about autism science, AKA autism powers. Because kids need to understand autism kids because the kids don't know what they're doing. Cause autism kids are doing like weird things like.
00:04:17 Johnandrew Slominski
Here, John drums on the table, spins around in his chair, and resumes drumming on his teacher, Miss Rooney, who kindly asks him to keep his hands in his lap.
00:04:28 John Perezchica
I'm just showing an example.
00:04:29 Sarah Rooney
I know, so your example is that you do surprising things or things that sometimes kids are surprised that you do.
00:04:37 John Perezchica
00:04:39 Sarah Rooney
OK. And why would it be important for them to know about it?
00:04:42 John Perezchica
Because... because... because... because it's important to not like, to understand kids what they're doing. So yeah. Excuse me, I have a question for you. Old are you?
00:04:58 Johnandrew Slominski
Hey, I'll take my chances. You want to guess how old I am.
00:05:03 John Perezchica
00:05:06 Johnandrew Slominski
Close enough, my friend. If I can pass for 30, I'll take it. OK, so John's teacher, Miss Rooney, who we heard from just a minute ago, is hanging out in the room and she's informed me that John is really, really into Mario Kart. John, what does your masterful memory superpower remember about Mario Kart?
00:05:30 John Perezchica
RKGB, GP1, RKGP 2, RKGP Deluxe, the arcade, and there's the main tiles like Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, Mario Cart Super Circuit, Mario Kart Double Dash, Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7, Mario Kart 8. There's Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Toad, Peach, and Bowser. I'll give you a quiz about them. So.
00:06:01 Johnandrew Slominski
OK, hit me with that Mario quiz.
00:06:05 John Perezchica
So which game? Has has Pac-Man on it? Is it Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart RKGP or Mario Kart 8.
00:06:21 Johnandrew Slominski
I'm really out of my depth here. Can you give me a hint?
00:06:25 John Perezchica
The arcade games was, the Mario Kart RKGP was made by Napco.
00:06:35 Johnandrew Slominski
Well, that was probably going to be my guess. So ,in that case I give up what's the right answer.
00:06:41 John Perezchica
Mario Kart RKGP.
00:06:46 Johnandrew Slominski
You know, I never would have guessed. My nephew, though, loves Mario, so maybe I'll see if he can win at your quiz. John, real quick before we go, if you had another superpower that could change anything at school, is there anything you'd use it to change?
00:07:04 John Perezchica
Yes, I want lunch because I don't like the food there.
00:07:09 Johnandrew Slominski
Super powers for better snacks. I love it. John, it's been a real treat talking with you on the podcast, and I hope you. Have an awesome rest of your summer.
00:07:19 John Perezchica
See you later. Bye.
00:07:23 Johnandrew Slominski
Thanks also to Miss Rooney for helping us connect.
00:07:26 Johnandrew Slominski
I love John's insights into autism. Framing things through the lens of superpowers and wishing for kids to understand autism better. Then again, there's also the wish for better-tasting food at school, which, in my opinion, is just proof that some things never change.
00:07:45 Johnandrew Slominski
The Autism Annex podcast was developed by Star Autism Support. I'm Johnandrew Slominski.
00:07:53 Johnandrew Slominski
Special thanks to you listeners for tuning in this summer. If you like what you hear and haven't yet subscribed, please do so and consider leaving us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. It really helps new listeners to find us. Until next time my friends take good care of yourself and one another.