I love my cousin Jack. He is 19 and he has autism. He used to talk until the age of 2 and now he does not speak. To support Jack, we choose activities that he is able to do like playing in parks, bowling, kicking a soccer ball and eating in his favorite restaurant, Lontza Pizza in Greenvale.

Wherever we go with him and his brothers and sister, we make sure that the locations are well lit because he does not like darkness. It is amazing to see how others go out of their way to make him comfortable.

He has been going to a special school run by Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism (NSSA) since age 4.

NSSA raises money and awareness for autism and offers a number of programs for those with autism.

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This year I went to the dinner benefit, which is their largest fundraiser of the year. My family and grandparents from Massachusetts went to the benefit to support Jack and NSSA. The event had more than 500 people, with 70 people there to support Jack.

Jack is very special to me and an important part of my family. I love my cousin and because of him I have learned a lot about autism and those with special needs.