Autism Awareness – An Interview with Steve Mulvoy

Our guest blogger this week is one of our National Board members, Barbara Orlando, from Massachusetts. She is on the National Philoptochos Autism Assistance Fund Committee and wants to make a difference by spreading awareness of autism and by doing so, alerting all of the support available locally and nationally and the support we must all give to individuals and families who face an autism diagnosis. Barbara recently interviewed one of her parishioners with autism, here is his story, told by Barbara:

Paul Bobotas, Steve Mulvoy, Barbara Orlando, and George Stavros
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Steve Mulvoy, a fellow Parishioner at Saint Gregory the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church in Mansfield, MA. We spoke at length about his condition known as Asperger’s syndrome*.

Steve’s mother noticed certain behaviors when Steve was about four years old that caused her enough concern to bring him to a neurologist for testing. The testing confirmed his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.

Steve resides in Medfield, MA with his father, Thomas, and his brothers. Steve was very open about his Asperger’s. He told me to please “Ask him anything.” He reflected on his younger years and said that he had a tendency to isolate himself, especially in grade school. Steve credits his late mother for helping him attend the “Learning Prep” School in Newton, Ma. She advocated for him every step of the way. She would not give up on helping Steve attain the proper educational placement. She met with the local superintendent of schools and insisted that Steve be given the opportunity to attend “Learning Prep.”

Steve said that in middle school he began to have a few friends who shared the same background as himself. Steve mentioned that he was an excellent speller in school and won all the spelling bees. In high school he attained all A’s and B’s. Steve said that he would not have done so well had it not been for the small classroom sizes of no more than ten students.

Steve went on to attend Mount Ida College in Newton and received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in May of 2011. He works part-time assisting a neighbor in their office, keeping things organized and tying up loose ends. Steve also is very active in Church, teaching Sunday school, helping out with both third and fourth grade classes and high school.

He is a wonderful young man and was a pleasure to speak to. Steve is a beautiful example of how Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t hold a person back. People with Asperger’s syndrome experience difficulties in the area of social imagination, communication and interaction.

People with Asperger’s syndrome face varying degrees of difficulty, as individuals, they have different strengths and needs. There is great support available through organizations as well as the local community.

Here are a few resources for individuals and families faced with an autism diagnosis who would like more information or support:

  • The May Institute is a school for Autistic children, founded on Cape Cod in 1955. It now has 165 programs located nationwide. 

  • The American Autism Association's website contains a variety of information, a blog, recent updates on research and links for all ages from young children to adults.

  • The National Autism Association is an excellent resource that also offers a blog, information on wandering and safety, many contacts for information, and a place for parents and loved ones to express their concerns.

- Barbara Orlando

* The diagnosis of Asperger's was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)  and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.