“Society needs to change:” Students get better understanding of what it means to be on autism spectrum

BROOKFIELD -- It's a lesson in acceptance that some hope will go beyond the classroom. A group of Brookfield high school students now have a better understanding of what it means to be on the autism spectrum.

Good Friend, Inc.

Good Friend, Inc.

Lila Nelson tells her mom what she looks forward to when her school choir group heads to Disney World in May. She's a student at Brookfield Central High School.

Nelson was diagnosed with autism when she was five.

"We want her to have the same experiences as any other kiddo," said Andrea Nelson, Lila's mom.

So school officials wanted to educate students about the disorder.

"Every kid that walks into our doors, we want to make sure they have a place," said Brett Gruetzmacher, principal at Brookfield Central H.S.

Two Waukesha area moms whose children are on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit "Good Friend, Inc."

"I think it's easy to see autism in a portrayal in a movie or in a TV series and go 'oh that is what autism looks like,'" said Chelsea Budde, Good Friend, Inc.

Good Friend, Inc

Good Friend, Inc

They visit local schools raising awareness.

"Autism is as individual as humanity itself. You have to look at each person and get to know them," said Budde.

They're offering a lesson students say will stick with them.

"It is a reminder to go out and connect with someone who you think might be different -- not just autism, but any disability," said Sanchi Kalra, 12th grade student.

Good Friend, Inc.

Nelson's mom said she hopes this experience will mean more support for Lila and other children.

The CDC says one in 88 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder.

"They're not necessarily the ones who need to change. I think it's our community and our society that needs to change," said Nelson.

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