A Piece Of The Puzzle
Levittown Tribune - 5/2/2018
Throughout the month of April, schools across the country have held events and raised awareness for autism. A little closer to home, Levittown stands out a bit brighter, with waves of blue and brightly colored puzzle pieces everywhere you look. Benjamin Goodness is a senior at General Douglas MacArthur High School. He is on the honor roll, recently became inducted into the National Art Honor Society, is a four-year Renaissance award winner and will be graduating this June with a regent's diploma. He also has autism, but you would never guess because Goodness is just like everyone else.
"All of the autism awareness work they are doing at MacArthur is for a good cause," said Goodness, who is higher-functioning. "My teacher, Mr. Causeman is a member of the organization. During the month, he talks about autism, why we get involved and we all wear shirts with the autism symbol on certain days."
Like any teenager, Goodness enjoys going to the gym, playing PAL golf,
swimming, watching horror movies and going to comic book stores. He also has big plans for his future.
"I love art class (mostly ceramics) but I'm very interested in gemology," said Goodness, who will be attending Nassau Community College in the fall and majoring in art. He then plans to study at the GIA Gemology Institute of America to learn about gemology.
"I became interested in gemology by watching Steven Universe on Cartoon Network because it taught me a lot about gemstones," he said, adding that he is part of two gem clubs, Island Rockhounds and the Nassau Mineral Club at Garvies Point.
Goodness said that if someone asks if he is autistic, he says yes, but that they would never know otherwise because it never crosses his mind to tell them. Like Goodness, if someone has high-functioning autism, their IQ is normally higher than 70 and they can successfully navigate school and work environments. In addition to working at Friendly's, the spirited senior volunteers at Last Hope Animal Shelter where he walks the dogs. A pet lover himself, Goodness has three dogs, two cats and a tarantula.
"I have a lot of responsibilities, but I like to be really involved," he said, which is not surprising given the community in which he comes from. "I learned a lot from what Mr. Causeman told me about autism. At school, I'm treated as an equal, part of the group, and people respect me for it."
To learn more about Autism, visit www.autismspeaks.org.