George Yionoulis Presents About His Autism
When his fourth-grade teacher asked if George Yionoulis wanted to make a presentation about his autism, the 9-year-old jumped at the chance.
But instead of standing in front of the class and talking about himself, he created his own music video to explain autism to his peers. This video has now gone viral and people are blown away by it.
Early Life and Education
When George Yionoulis was a child, he loved “Harry Potter,” making art, and eating tacos. He also loves dancing and music. But when he was 2 years old, his parents discovered that he had autism.
As a result, his classmates at Douglas Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina, couldn’t quite understand why he might react to certain things the way that he did. So, as part of his class project, he decided to explain it all in an informational video.
In the six-minute video, Yionoulis explains how autism impacts him. He shares a variety of his challenges, from meltdowns to sensory overload and hand-flapping. He also discusses the tools that he uses to help him focus on things. And, of course, he invites his classmates to ask him any questions they might have.
Evan Yionoulis has worked extensively in New York as well as in many of our nation’s most prestigious regional theatres. She has directed plays by Shakespeare, Brecht, Carlo Gozzi and modern works including Kirsten Greenidge’s Bossa Nova and Caryl Churchill’s Owners.
In addition to her work at Yale Repertory, she has also been the director of acting and directing programs at the Yale School of Drama since 1998. She has received an Obie Award, a DramaLogue award and the 1995 Oppenheimer Award for her work in theatre.
Achievements and Honors
George Yionoulis is a typical 9-year-old boy who loves “Harry Potter,” making art, and eating tacos. But, like many kids with autism, he has challenges when it comes to communicating.
As a result, his classmates have sometimes found him difficult to understand. That’s why he decided to make a video about his life with autism to help his class better understand him.
He filmed it himself and shared the video on YouTube last week. Since then, it’s gotten viral and has been viewed more than 23,000 times.
Evan Yionoulis is an award-winning director who has directed new plays and classics in New York and across the U.S. She opened Manhattan Theatre Club’s Biltmore Theatre (Broadway) with Richard Greenberg’s The Violet Hour, directed his Everett Beekin at Lincoln Center Theater, and received an Obie Award for her direction of his Three Days of Rain. She also directed the critically acclaimed productions of Adrienne Kennedy’s He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box and Ohio State Murders (Lortel Award for Best Revival).
In the fourth grade at a public school in Raleigh, North Carolina, George Yionoulis was getting ready to present a class project about his autism, a condition that causes challenges with social skills and communication. His classmates sometimes didn’t understand him because he acted differently, took words too literally or got overly frustrated by small things.
But instead of standing in front of his class and talking about himself, he decided to make a video. The result is a heartwarming and honest peek at life with autism, complete with meltdowns, hand-flapping and other behaviors associated with the disorder.
George’s mother, Lisa Jolley, says she hopes the video helps other parents like her and kids like him to understand that it’s OK to be different. She also hopes it will help those who don’t have autism learn how to be more inclusive.