To be normal,
Would be a sin
Worse than vodka, brandy,
— Alex Moschella, "A World in My Eyes: The Dusk of Autism"
The author of the poetry book is a relative unknown...but he happens to be a local high schooler.
Fifteen-year-old Moschella--an incoming Sweetwater High School sophomore--has been writing poetry since sixth grade, filling up composition books to deal with his autism/Asperger's syndrome. When he showed his hobby off to some of his high school teachers, one of them encouraged him to take his writing to the next level.
Moschella recalled that his Spanish teacher, Bruce Parsons, told him to check out CreateSpace, a website that allows aspiring authors to create books. By the next day, he told his teacher that he already published the book by using the website.
Cindy Brooks, the mother of the young author, said that she "knew something was up" when her son was born due to his behavior. But even after graduating from the ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) and PPCD (Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities) programs, the family was no closer to an answer.
As he began school in Cuero, TX, Brooks said that his teachers also became aware of Moschella's differences. He underwent multiple tests, but passed every single one.
By the time he was nine, however, Moschella began to have vivid imaginary play--a symptom of autism where the child's imagination is mixed with reality. Brooks heard about an autism specialist in San Antonio and by the off-chance met the doctor while at the store.
When he saw Moschella, Brooks recalled, the doctor realized the boy had autism. Later, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism/Asperger's syndrome.
Both Moschella and Brooks view autism as an "different ability". Moschella was reading books penned by J.R.R. Tolkien--the mind behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy--as a first grader; currently, he reads at a college junior level.
But where he excels in reading, English and comprehension, Moschella is not as strong in math and in his social skills. The latter has somewhat proven to be difficult, especially while interacting with his peers.
Brooks noted that while autism is an unspoken issue, some of his peers will think of her son as weird or not normal. She explains autism in that the brain is rewired in comparison to others, like a different type of circuit board. As a result, people with autism see, hear and feel things differently and stronger.
When Moschella hears something derogatory toward him, the hurt feeling is intensified and harder to overcome. The hardest time for him was at an age when children are discovering themselves--during middle school.
Thankfully, Brooks pointed out that as they get older, his peers have become more accepting and the bullying decreases. Moschella admits that he's had to grow into his autism and deals with it on a daily basis.
He says that when he feels challenged, he will go outside and start writing. The end result has been his poetry book, "A World in My Eyes: The Dusk of Autism", which is currently being sold through the CreateSpace and Amazon websites.
Moschella is considering opening the sale up to European markets, but one of his substitute teachers, Alisa Setliff--a mother who has autistic children herself, is also considering submitting a copy of the book to autismspeaks.org, a website that offers information and support for people who have loved ones with autism.
The book highlights pain, love, and Moschella's experiences in being different. Another particular aspect within the book is religion. The author admitted that, possibly due to his autism, he has never understood religion but is learning more about it by attending Emmanuel Fellowship Church in Sweetwater.
Moschella is thankful to his intermediate school and English teachers who taught him and noted his intellectual ability, along with the teachers who encouraged him to write the book. He also thanks his teachers and friends who have purchased the book, along with Audrey Mink for supporting his books.
His mother says that she lives under the mindset that God doesn't make mistakes; through their differences, a person can do something magnificent. Brooks said she was surprised when she found out that her son wrote and published the book, but is thrilled that her autistic son found his talent and has been able to thrive.
While he said that he never expected his book to become what it is today, Moschella hopes that it will inspire others like him to find their place while overcoming bullying and the other obstacles of autism.