November 8, 2005

An Essay from a Non-Verbal Child on What It Is Like To Be Autistic

This was on one of my lists today. I really enjoyed reading it.

When my Dear Daughter's supervisor showed me this letter from one of her other clients, I immediately wanted to share it with all of you. I was amazed at how articulate this boy is and his depth of thought on the topic.

He is 9 years old, nonverbal, and diagnosed with severe autism. He just began using a Facilitated Communication device recently. The question my dd's supervisor posed was "What does autism mean to you." Here is his reply. I have typed his words verbatim. I have not altered his sentence structure or thoughts at all.

"What do I think autism means. To me it means not to be able to fully connect with myself. I can not control some of the things I say or do. I feel at times out of control. Other times I feel scared of what others may think. I have all my life had to prove to people that I am really intelligent and kind. Huge amount of people have finally believed in me. The toughest part of being autistic is the silly thoughts that go through your head. People don't understand what I am thinking of. It's frustrating. Autism is not easy to define to somebody who isn't but, the easiest way to put it into words would be probably disconnection from yourself and others. People are now understanding that it more prevalent. There needs to be more research on infants while in the tummy. I know there is some clues there. As to why there is autism. I'm just happy to be alive and healthy. I'm just lucky to have my family and friends. Having them helps me cope with life. I'm very lucky."

When my daughter's supervisor asked him if she could share this letter with others so that they could understand what it's like to have autism, he typed the following response:

"Yes. Yes please. I want others to know. I think it's important for people to know. I'm really proud of my paper. I worked really hard on it. Thank you."

I was blown away by the complexity of mind that this boy displayed. I taught typical 9-10 year olds in 4th grade for 5 years and this level of thought is rare indeed.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Shelly and Natalie (3 and we have high hopes!)

2 comments:

Kev said...

Thanks for sharing this Ginger, a very interesting read. I hope it leaves an impression in the minds of people who a) Think that non-verbal = unintelligent and b)Think that communicating means one is suddenly not autistic.

Mary Ann Harrington said...

I really enjoyed the article. I have learned to never underestimate nonverbal people with autism. Did he type this alone or was he facilitated in some fashion?

Mary Ann Harrington