OLDSMAR, Fla. — These days, it's easy to get lost in the music in the Gasior household.
In fact, for Bozena Gasior, it is hard to think back to a time without music.
“I am so glad that he found his music, or the music found him," she says with a smile looking at her son, Milosz Gasior.
Playing piano captivates Milosz, 19.
“The sound, the black and white keys, that is somewhat magical," said Bozena. "The music really talked to him from the beginning.”
The music spoke when Milosz couldn't.
“So what are you going to play first?" she asks him.
"Mozart," said Milosz, in a short staccato tone.
"Prelude?" she questions further.
"Yeah," he says quickly.
This one to two-word conversation is normal for Milosz, who struggles with speech. He has autism and a more severe case.
“Not having the speech, it’s, I think the music just gives him a way of expressing himself, and being busy," said Bozena.
Milosz is busy, especially with music. It took him many years to reach this more advanced level of musical talent.
Bozena said many people are surprised to learn he didn't just naturally pick up playing piano because he has autism.
“So many people have this idea of autistic, almost savant. Like, you are born with a gift," said Bozena. "This is not a gift.”
Milosz practices four hours each day.
“Everything that Milosz has achieved, he achieved with hard work," she said.
Milosz thrives, like most with autism, on a schedule. Many days follow a similar routine. He goes to school, does chores when he gets home, often rides his bike, and attends speech therapy sessions.
Then, of course, several hours of piano practice and lessons.
Through all of this, Milosz needs constant supervision and attention.
“As long as I live I am going to be there, or somebody is going to be there with him," said Milosz.
He is 19 and a senior at Gibbs High School in Pinellas County. He has thrived in high school.
But college? Joining the workforce? Just coming into adulthood - these are all things Bozena worries about.
“I am worried about the future. I am positive, and I am doing anything I can do find options for him, but I am worried,” she said. "So the graduation, I know that many people consider that as an accomplishment. For me, it is really just fear. What is going to happen next?”
Over the next decade, the organization Autism Speaks estimates more than one million kids with autism will enter adulthood and age out of school-based autism services. It also estimates nearly half of the 25-year-olds with autism in the country have never held a paying job.
Milosz even knows he is nearing this point.
“Since the beginning of the school year, he kept repeating, 13th grade, 13th grade," said Bozena. "Because for him it was natural that, that from there 11th he goes to 12th, from 12th he would go to the next grade. So we explained to him that there is no 13th grade.”
So what comes next? Who will help support him?
Bozena knows what most parents know, he will most likely outlive her.
“At some point, I am not going to be here when Milosz is going to be here. And I want to do everything that I can, to prepare for that time," said Bozena.
At this point, she feels that means getting Milosz ready for the workforce using his best skill - piano.
“In a perfect world, I would imagine him playing somewhere, in a nice restaurant, with beautiful candles and his music," said Bozena.
He does currently play at different places around town from time to time. This past Christmas holiday he got to play at Tampa International Airport.
“Playing doesn’t require talking to people. And, his personality he wants to please people," said Bozena.
It takes no time for people to react to the music on a busy travel day. In a place where it is easy to be in a hurry, people are constantly slowing their pace to hear Milosz play.
“Just listen, that is all you have to do, and feel. That is what music is all about," said Bob Selby, traveler.
“So this is very nice, and soothing," said Ada Torres, traveler.
“He is really good, really good. I would never guess he was autistic," said Tonisha White, a traveler.
This reaction from total strangers is exactly what his mother hopes for. She wants people to know about Milosz and accept him the way he is.
“That is my son’s name. Milosz Gasior Defying Autism,” said Bozena, as she handed out Milosz's business card. “If you ever would like to support him on his YouTube channel, and listen to the same music on his YouTube channel.”
Bozena hopes someone listening could be a potential employer.
“I hope someone out there is going to hear him play, hear his story, and give him a chance," said Bozena.
His journey into adulthood is certainly just beginning. But with his mother's help, they hope he can one day support himself in some way.
To see Milosz's most recent work, click here.