JARED EICHELBERGER

"Jared is a 25-year-old who has lived in Santa Barbara since he was two. Four months later he was diagnosed with autism. With the help of his family, professional autism experts and dozens of trained and enthusiastic tutors, Jared has learned the skills that are necessary to allow him to be a recognized and beloved member of the community and participate in a variety of small business ventures and volunteer opportunities.
Many of the aforementioned young tutors have gone on to become autism specialists, special education teachers, speech therapists, and occupational therapists. In doing so, they continue to carry Jared’s spirit and determination on to others who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

This is what Jared would like you to know about him:

My name is Jared. Some people call me Jolly Jared because I’m always so happy. I don’t know another way to be.

I can’t tell you when it’s noon, but I know when it’s lunchtime.

I like to wear striped shirts, and frequently wear them backwards, until my mom asks me to turn them around.

For me, it’s the little things in life that make it big...Diet Coke, Frisbee, and my harmonica, that I sometimes play when people least expect it.

I like flying in airplanes, especially when they are taking off—I always shout “Here we go!”.

I don’t know what seasons are, but I know when it’s cold and when it’s hot. When it’s hot I like to go in the ocean and play in the waves and feel them crash against my body---but only in warm water. I don’t like it when it’s cold.

It makes me feel funny when people hug me, but I’ll let you hug me because I know it makes you feel good.

My favorite musician is Jack Johnson. I listen to lots of different songs on my iPod with my headphones on but Jack Johnson is the only one I know by heart.

I have a closet in my room and sometimes I take all of my blankets and pillows and squeeze them in the closet, curl up in them and close the door. It makes me feel good. My mom says I like small spaces.

I hardly ever lie. When people ask me if I did something I wasn’t supposed to I almost always tell the truth—except one time I got caught eating cookies I wasn’t supposed to and I said my Dad’s friend Rob did it. I don’t know why I said that, but my Dad thought it was funny.

It doesn’t matter to me what people look like. I like almost everyone I meet if they’re nice. The only people I don’t like too much are babies because they’re always crying.

I like to go for rides. Cars with the windows down, scooters, boats, and my bike are my favorite. I ride my bike all around town with my family and my friends. I get in trouble sometimes when I ride on the lines in the middle of the street. I’m not supposed to do that.

I know I am loved because people tell me that all the time. Lately, I’ve started saying, “I love you” to my family and special friends. I think love means - I like being with you.

I am more than you assume when you meet me. You hear me, but unless you take the time to know me, you can’t understand me. My words don’t sound like yours, but they are still words - my words. They are me reaching out or reaching in - if you take the time to know me you will learn the difference.

I am more than you know. I am loving and kind and a hard worker and I inspire people every day. I laugh and smile, and make people happy. I think that’s what I do best."

Nathan Williamson