‘I’m not alone’: Arkansas teen with autism gets support from football players at school

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MONTICELLO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — An Arkansas teen with moderate autism has newfound confidence thanks to a group of football players that stepped in to support him this week.

“It makes me feel me. It makes me feel like I’m not alone a lot,” said 16-year-old Aiden Hall.

The players, at Monticello High School, are being called modern-day superheroes for their kindness to Aiden.

Aiden has a red Superman cape that he loves to wear at home and in the community.

Last Thursday, he built up the courage to wear it to school, but not everyone was impressed.

“My husband drops him off in the morning. He got out and he had it on and he seen somebody saw it and kind of pointed at it and laughed a little bit under their breath and he noticed,” Aiden’s mother, Michallee Hall, said. “He took his cape off and put it back in the car.”

Aiden’s father, Phillip Hall, took his concern about the incident to Facebook. Monticello student-athlete and senior, Riley Williams, heard about the post and decided to round up a group of teammates to take action.

“I just think it’s unfair that students can come to school and be confident then be shut down by people who shouldn’t do that to them,” Williams said.

Instead of Aiden’s dad dropping him off at school, Williams decided to pick him up from his home so they could ride to school together.

When they arrived, KJ Wells, Kanyon Burdan, Jordan Light and Nick Smith met them, each wearing a cape.

“It was tough for him, and we all felt that,” Williams said. “It was just cool to be able to be like his bodyguards and just be able to help him into school and build his confidence back up.”

Aiden’s mother said her son has a huge heart that many people don’t get to see.

“He’s very guarded in public, but I don’t think people know him. The people that take time to get to know him are always amazed by the depth of his emotions and the way he can describe things by writing it down,” she said.

Some of the athletes said they saw themselves in Aiden. Nick Smith said he was bullied when he was younger.

I used to get picked on a lot about what I used to wear,” Smith said. “I was fat and bald and stuff, so I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. Nobody likes to be picked on.”

Aiden’s parents commend the guys for sticking up for their son. They said they admire their leadership at the school on and off the field.

“They have so much power and they don’t even realize it,” Phillip Hall said. Aiden looks up to them. It’s amazing to see him be who he wants to be.”

Aiden says he’s thankful the group supported him. Now, he hopes others have the courage to stand up for themselves.

“Don’t listen to them. Just have fun,” he said.

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