NewsMontana News

Actions

Montana woman doesn’t let autism get her down

Sara Thomas.png
Posted at 12:42 PM, Apr 11, 2024

LEWISTOWN — April is Autism Awareness Month. According to theAutism Speaks website, the Centers for Disease Control reports that one in 36 children have autism, up from the previous rate of one in 44. And one in 45 adults have autism.

But many people with high functioning autism can live normal, productive lives.

One such person in Lewistown uses humor, poetry, and friendship to navigate the challenges - for Sara Thomas the path hasn’t always been smooth. Her days haven’t always been sunny.

“Life has been like a roller coaster,” said Thomas, 38 years old. “You have your ups and downs and many challenges along the way. I've had many doors slammed shut in my face, metaphorically speaking.”

The diagnosis hasn’t stopped her. Sara has a driver’s license, a CPR/AED certification, lives independently, participates in Special Olympics, and even acts regularly with the Judith Mountain players who she says is like a second family.

“I love just getting on stage and just acting and making people laugh,” said Thomas.

That humorous spirit is part of what helps Sara get through the tough times.

She says sarcasm is one of her favorite forms of comedy.

“Anytime you hang out with her is a fun time,” said Sara’s longtime friend Kaycee Melton. “She's always cracking jokes and trying to make people laugh and make their day better.”

Kaycee says she has a lot of funny stories to tell about growing up with Sara. She recalled the time the two were taking driver’s education class together.

“She did a U-turn on Main Street. She thought that was legal. And then quickly learned that was not legal,” said Melton.

Sara and Kaycee’s friendship dates all the way back in middle school. While they may not spend as much time together as they used to, the bond of friendship remains unbreakable. Kaycee says part of what makes Sara such a great friend, is her big heart.

“She encourages me all the time,” said Melton. “Even last week at Special Olympics practice, there was a guy having kind of a rough time and she was there and trying to encourage him.”

Living with autism isn’t Sara’s only struggle, she also suffers from bipolar disorder and clinical depression. In addition to laughter being a good medicine, she’s also turned to writing poetry.

Sara Thomas.png

“I didn't know how to get my frustrations out, so I wrote it down on paper just started taking an interest from there.”

She has a journal full of poems that she hopes one day to publish. In the meantime, she’s earned recognition in online contests. One of her latest writings is called “Brave LIttle Warrior.”

Sara read an excerpt from the poem to MTN.

“As she sits and privately cries with war paint stuck around her eyes, she hides her sadness with great lies. Still, every day she gets up and tries,” said Thomas. “Nobody can see her. Deep, dark pain deep inside her sadness will remain. But in spite of her deep, dark pain, her crying heart will always remain.”

Sara knows others struggle with autism, but she says the best way to deal with it is by being yourself.

“Never be ashamed of who you are because you weren't diagnosed with a disability. It's more like a gift from God and take that as a gift from God,” said Thomas.

“It's how God gifted her, even having autism and I do believe God uses her in big ways just to encourage other people,” said Melton.