'I am not Rain Man' - Rob Parton strikes it big as autistic speaker|
MUMBLES, Wales: Just because you have autism doesn't make you Rain Man. But Rob Parton, who was born with an autistic spectrum condition, has turned the name of the Oscar-winning movie to his advantage.
The 17-year-old from Mumbles has launched a career as a public speaker, and has given a title to his ideas — I am not Rain Man — named after the movie featuring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman about the life of an autistic savant.
He said: "People with autistic spectrum conditions are like the characters in Alice in Wonderland. We are all very different, but each of us has a value. I am not an autistic savant, I have high- functioning autism which is different. When I was little, I wanted to speak but it felt like the words were stuck in the corridors of my brain, which is a complex maze, and I could not get them out so my only voice was a scream.
"Now I have found a way to get them out I have so much to tell people and I want to help them understand and raise awareness of autism."
His success has seen him nominated for a High 5 Award — the city's way of recognising young people who have achieved success against the odds.
He was nominated by Katharine Protheroe, of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, who said: "Rob has been nominated not because of the difficulties he faces but because of his achievements. He is determined to have a career rather than go on benefits and we are so proud of what he is doing."
His mum, Ann, said: "I think I knew almost from birth Rob was different and that's not just because he is autistic but because he is so intelligent, determined and wise beyond his years.
"When he found his voice, it was wonderful — then he never seemed to stop talking. Now, despite leaving school at 16 with very little formal education, he is growing in confidence and his public speaking is gaining a tremendous response."
Rob will be speaking next at the Ostreme Hall in Mumbles on Friday, July 20, from 7.45pm.
(Source: South Wales Evening Post, July 7, 2012)