The Arc of Massachusetts: Jonathan Gardner’s Story

Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Gardner

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Jonathan Gardner, 20, is autistic and has PTSD. He has also battled a form of bone cancer.

When Jonathan was 18, he started having horrible pain in his back and leg. But he said communicating with the doctors and nurses was difficult, and believes that delayed his cancer diagnosis.

“These people are just turning me away when I kept telling them, ‘Hey, I’m in a lot of pain,’” he said. “The person took my mom aside and told her to take me to a psychiatrist because they thought something else was wrong with me.”

Read More: ‘We Advocate For Everybody’: A Look At The Arc Of Massachusetts’ Mission

Jonathan was mostly nonverbal until he was nine years old. Years later, he has come a long way and is now a public speaker. He said it took a lot of willpower of his own, as well as from his family and speech and language therapists.

“I became the person you’re hearing today,” Jonathan said.

Jonathan is an ambassador and mentor with The Arc of Massachusetts’ Operation House Call. He gives presentations to medical and nursing students on best practices when caring for patients with Autism and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

“By sharing my story and the stories of other advocates, doctors can learn from our unfortunate events,” he said.

The Arc of Massachusetts is celebrating its 70th year with a gala on Nov. 9, 2023. The non-profit is dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click here to learn how to donate.

WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports:

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