Photo Slideshow | A walk with Damian


Chicago Parent Staff/photos by Frank Pinc


Damian Nelson comes alive in the woods in front of his Chicago home. The 18-year-old, who has autism, heads into his jungle forest playground every day, usually accompanied by constant companion, his dad Jerry.

Click here to view a slideshow of Damian and his dad.

"He thinks he's Mowgli," Jerry says, naming the character from Damian's favorite movie, "Jungle Book." "That makes me Baloo the Bear," Jerry jokes. Every evening, Jerry sings the song "Bear Necessities" to Damian. It doesn't matter how often Damian has heard the song, he still laughs every time.

One of the best parts of the day is when Damian looks Jerry in the eye. Damian spent 10 years not making eye contact with his dad, or anyone else. Every day, Jerry begged Damian to look at him. He remembers the first time Damian finally peered into his eyes-it was three seconds that felt like hours-it felt like forever. Now he can't get enough of it.



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