As an autistic person I ask you to try to understand autism from autistic people. The people who are most knowledgeable about autism are those who live as autistic everyday. Why then do non-autistic people have authority about autism and how to help autistic people? ASAN is an important group because we can advocate for ourselves. Although we need many people to learn from, ASAN understands autism better than parent and profession-led groups. People should listen to us about our experiences, needs, desires, and goals.
Acceptance is making each person feel valued and seeing his or her importance in society. I am helping pave a way for more autistic people to be given a way to communicate meaningfully. I make a difference by blogging, answering questions, and making my voice heard. People need to know nonverbal people also have feelings and intelligence. My voice only comes out through typing with a trusted partner. I am learning to type more independently. This might take me a long time. Please respect my voice even if it has to be supported. My voice is all mine.
I have a voice now. My goal is to advocate for those who communicate like me to have more opportunities in regular education and mainstream life. I have benefited so much from a good education and lots of activities in the community. I also advocate for people who still don’t have a voice. I blog to tell people how I feel and how communication has changed my life. I do this in hopes to convince parents, teachers, and therapists to believe their children and students are smarter than they look. I blog to show that good alternatives to speaking are possible. Meaningful communication opens a world of connection to others and opportunities to learn and grow. People become much happier. Taking away my voice would be oppression. To deny validity of supported communication is like imprisoning an innocent person.
Autism is a neurological difference and disability. I cannot change the way I am wired. I am built for another planet, but I must live here. Please help autistic people by loving us as we are and not try to cure us. Peace comes when I am accepted and included.
Philip Reyes is 13 years old and attends public school in Williamsville, NY. He authors the blog Faith, Hope, and Love With Autism. His writings have appeared in print in The Buffalo News and the anthology Typed Words, Loud Voices. He has also written for various web-based magazines such as Parents, The Mighty, and Disability in Kidlit. Philip enjoys riding his bike and challenging himself to new experiences, the latest being ice-skating.