I am Philip. God made me this way. When I was younger, no one appreciated me being autistic. I was seen by my deficits, not as a person. It made me feel so lost. It was the worst. I am so happy I am no longer there. I thank God and Soma for getting me out of silent prison. Being thought of as retarded and unteachable is like being locked away in solitary confinement except people are all around me thinking I am not there. I talked with a mouth which did not say what I wanted to say. Meaningful words stayed behind in my mind. How I wanted to get them out. People assumed I only thought what I said. I was not in control of my body either. I made many mistakes on my school drills. I had amounted to a pet to train through ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis). I want to tell you loud and clear. Save ABA for pets and animals. The solution accepted by my friends and me is acceptance of autism as another way of being. Then good education and a reliable means to communicate must be given. Addressing anxiety and brain-body disconnect is also important.
I am each day learning as a neurotypical learns. I can understand everything people say. I mean to be able to do more to show people I am smart. Autism really makes it hard to control your body. In my case, I can look like I don't care or I can't comprehend. I think many autistics are underestimated like I was. I am learning some easier ways to good communication. Pointing to letters is easier than speaking. No method has helped me more than Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). I was able to show I could learn. I am advocating for regular education with accommodations such as using iPads and letterboards in the classroom.
I think most autistics invite mental challenges. Good instruction about the world prepares us to choose an interesting life for ourselves. I prefer learning to childish ABA activities. Be very patient with us doing academics. We understand what you teach. Our bodies betray us. Most of the time I cannot be independent in my work because my body gets distracted so easily. Assume competence and we will do better. Meaningful pieces of good advice prepare us to enter the learning world with good attitude toward others. I can very much feel freer to hear you and respond if you care and are persistent. I search among people a quality of lots of motivation to get to know me. My success comes from a lot of mom persisting I work every day. A quest of mine is getting parents and teachers to practice RPM more. Autistics like me need believers in us. We need you to accept our challenges and help us work through them.
Addendum: Philip answering questions from a reader:
Do you think that ALL autistic children are just as bright as neurotypical children, just that they have sensory difficulties? Or do you think that there are some who are too shrouded with sensory difficulties that they are not able to learn well and have no longing to communicate like you did before you went through RPM?
Philip: My opinion is that all autistics can learn and want badly to communicate. Sensory difficulties make no difference in intelligence or desire.
Also, it seems that many of the autistic kids I work with, even those who are able to speak, have an issue with reasoning. For example, when asked "why" questions. Why is it that those who are able to speak well and articulately are not able to answer questions like that?
Philip: Autistics do not have a problem with reasoning. They may need more practice answering why questions because their impulse is to rely on repeating back information.
Copyright 2015 Philip Reyes. All rights reserved.
Lisa's note: This post is a response to a comment from a reader which read: