Falls Church City resident Bernie DeLeo received the Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) on July 23 for a play he wrote based on his son Chris DeLeo, who is on the autism spectrum.
DeLeo, the drama director at West Springfield High School, wrote “Nerdicus (My Brother with Autism),” an autobiographical one-act comedy based on how his son interacted with his sister Sophie DeLeo. Chris is a 2011 graduate of George Mason High School and Sophie is currently a rising senior at George Mason.
The play was performed last winter and spring as part of the annual Virginia High School League one-act competition; it advanced from the conference 6A round, won the regional prize for Northern Virginia and finished third in the 6A state conference finals in Charlottesville.
DeLeo’s play featured two students with autism in the cast, one of whom, graduating senior Austin Morrison, played the title role modeled after DeLeo’s son. Morrison also received the same award from the AAPD for his work highlighting autism awareness.