This past January Spectrum News shared a story about a young boy with Autism, disciplined for what his bus driver saw as "awkward behavior." His family was angry, but saw it as an opportunity to shed light on the challenges those living with Autism face each day. Gabrielle Mediak sat down exclusively with the 11-year-old and his family and shares how the family says this situation has only made them stronger.
DEWITT, N.Y. – It all started with a letter, which led to an 11-year-old getting written up on the bus to school.
"I wrote this note saying, ‘Will you be my friend, yes or no,’" said Justin Lambert.
That's how Spectrum News first met Justin and his mother, Danielle this past January.
The "reflection sheet" from the school said Justin 'displayed awkward behavior that resulted in a verbal altercation.'
Like thousands of other kids, the Jamesville-Dewitt middle schooler has Autism Spectrum Disorder -- it affects how he communicates and relates with others.
After his mother Danielle shared the incident on Facebook, it created a social media frenzy with hundreds rallying behind them.
"I was actually really surprised with how many people responded and said they were going through the same thing," said Danielle Lambert.
Since then school has stepped in, giving Justin a new bus driver. But bullying is just one issue the Lamberts have had to overcome together.
"We put this in Justin's head since he was very little that we are a team," said Danielle Lambert.”
In many ways Justin is an average 11-year-old. He's played soccer for six years, loves his Legos and even plays the piano.
"It's very easy to talk about the good of Autism and showcase it, but there’s a lot of negative that people don't show," said Danielle Lambert.
Justin didn't speak until the age of five and still struggles with social situations as well as change.
The Lamberts say while there are certainly bad days, they seem to makes the good ones even better and they hope sharing his story will inspire others.
"We struggle everyday with it. Justin struggles every day but look at his strength and positive reach on people that may be going through the same thing," said Danielle Lambert.
As Justin gets older, the Lamberts know this journey won’t be an easy one. But they know they’ll get through it, as long as they have each other.