Third-grader explains his autism to new classmates

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KARE) — The beginning of the new school year moves pretty fast, but that’s okay with Jackson Cook, a third grader from West St. Paul, Minnesota.

At the Twin Cities German Immersion School, his 8-year-old mind races with ideas in art class. He drew a soapbox derby car he spent all summer building, which he’ll debut in a practice race after school.

After art is over, he readies himself to walk back into his third-grade classroom. He’s practiced for this moment too.

Jackson, also nicknamed Jax, walked slowly to the front of his class, papers in hand.

“Raise your hand if you know what autism is,” said Jackson. “Raise your hand if you know that I have autism. It makes some parts of my brain work really well and some parts my brain work not very well. Doctors don’t know what makes some brains have autism and some brains not have it. I have it, but Charley doesn’t, even though he’s my twin brother.”

Jackson wanted his new class to understand why he’s easily frustrated or avoids eye contact. He’s on the autism spectrum, and also struggles with ADHD and anxiety.

“Sometimes I need help learning things that other brains automatically know,” as he read the speech carefully. “Like my brain tells my body that it is not comfortable to look at someone in the face when they talk to me.”

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