Monday, October 30, 2017

Rocking

My body loves to sway.
Motion calms me every day.

Mean to make my body still.
But my body's nature fights my will.

Music all around me really moves me to its rhythm.
I freely filter my world as light separates through a prism.

Flowing notes give way to good beats.
My hands must tap a jumping repeat.

Being lost in waves of healing.
Music is felt in each fiber of my being.




Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Thoughts on the Movie Deej

I saw the movie Deej recently. I loved it. It is a documentary about DJ Savarese who is a nonverbal autistic like me. I am following in his footsteps by going to regular school and being included. DJ received a good education with the help of a communication helper. He was meaningfully included. He participated. DJ learned to teach his neurotypical classmates that just because you can’t speak doesn’t mean you can’t think or communicate another way. DJ types like me. Like me he needs assistance to initiate, keep going, and not get off track. DJ wrote a play about his autism. His classmates acted it out. I thought it was great that DJ could teach his classmates this way. I hope I can make my classmates understand autism too. It is really peace to my soul to teach others that we who cannot speak are deep thinkers. We just have bodies out of synch with our minds. Meaningful lives are found when we can connect with others. Having effective means to communicate builds bridges linking people’s hearts and minds.

Deej was able to graduate from high school. His walk across the stage was my favorite part because it is my goal to get a high school diploma. I graduated middle school last spring. It was one of the best moments of my life.

DJ went to college at Oberlin. It was a lot of hard work. I mean to be a writer when I finish high school. I’m not sure I want to go to college. But I think everyone should set their own goals. I love that DJ's parents always supported him in reaching his goals. My parents also support me. They make my life more like a neurotypical's life by making me able to do regular things. I’m not typical though. Being autistic is my destiny. Inclusion should be for all on the basis of our humanity.

Typing a question to Deej himself! 


 Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

My Family



I am very blessed by my family. My family goes to great lengths to make my life better. I would probably be in my own world if it were not for my family pulling me out of silence. The reason I can be a part of the world is because they support me. Mom is my primary helper and support. Hearing her voice calms me to be able to talk with her best. Mom is the reason I can communicate. I am learning to be able to type with others. My family is my trusted circle. I can be myself completely. I can really stim if I need to and its ok. I can practice new things with Mom. I can try things without fear of failing. My family loves me no matter what.

I love doing things with my family. My family does things together like bike rides, going to sports events, vacationing, and going to church. I enjoy my time with my family because it is fun and I can be with them making meaningful memories. I am living my best because my family makes time for me, believes in me, and acts to make my life better.

I really like going out with my brother Carlos. He takes me to high school games. I like hanging out with him and his friends. Carlos is fun. I like being around him because he makes me happy. He is very cool.

Me and Carlos going to watch a game

My sisters are nice and talk to me. They can use my letterboard with me. Lia is fun. She likes to jump on the trampoline with me. I think Ana is the smartest of my siblings. She is an engineering major and wants to go to med school. Ana is patient. She likes to talk to me when she comes home from college. I am lucky I have them. In my family I am the third child. I like being in the middle because I have older siblings to look after me and a younger one who will lag behind to be with me longer. I am an integral part of my family.

Visiting Ana in Michigan

Biking and catching Pokemon at UB

I hope to help my family more as I get older. I would like to have a job and earn some money. I hope to be a writer and teach about autism. I would very much like to be a part of my family’s business of teaching people RPM. I am glad my family gets me and includes me. They are the best.



 Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Cage

This essay is in response to a parent whose child has started openly communicating after a year of doing Rapid Prompting Method (RPM).  It has been observed that the transition from not being able to communicate to communicating is often accompanied by difficult emotions and behavior.  This is Philip's explanation from his experience. 

Being able to communicate after many years of silence is like being let out of a cage. I sat in this cage like a bird on display at the zoo. People could not penetrate the glass of my cage. I did my best to make myself at home in the cage. The cage was transparent and I could still sense the world. I could lose myself in the world of colors, shapes, patterns, and rhythms. I did not share my experiences with others. I had no means to share my thoughts.  I learned to keep myself occupied by teaching myself through my senses. It was lonely not being able to communicate with anyone outside my cage. I prayed I could leave the cage everyday. My one comfort was talking to God. I talked to him all the time.

The cage only needed a key. If I could find someone with a key, I could get out. When I was nine we went to Austin, Texas where I met Soma. I saw she knew my situation. She was my hope for opening my cage. I tried with all my energy to answer all her questions by pointing to the choices and spelling. During that week my parents learned to see me in a whole new light.

At home I could not do with my mom what I could do with Soma yet. I had to persist in working with mom. Getting out of my cage was practically like escaping a maximum-security prison. Even though Soma had the key, I had many other obstacles. I made lots of routines in my cage that couldn’t be given up easily. Leaving them behind felt like betraying an old friend. I made myself free of them by learning to trust God that he would protect me outside the cage.

I began openly communicating with mom after months of RPM lessons. I could see more clearly through my mind’s clutter only after I became used to thinking through lessons that helped me categorize my thoughts and organize them in a way I could access them better. My communication is the greatest gift I ever received. Communication freed me from my cage. At last I could tell my thoughts and feelings to everyone.

The world was suddenly open. My cage slowly became dismantled. For me this was both amazing and frightening. My greatest wish came true. I was free. But I was also more aware that I now had new expectations on me. Would I be able to handle them? I could interact with people. But I was different. Would I be included? Could I be integrated into society like every neurotypical person? I began to have more anxiety about my new life. Sometimes I had meltdowns because overwhelming feelings could not be contained.

Integrating into society has been meaningful to me. Before I could communicate, I was treated like a beloved pet. I was loved but I was not seen as understanding. People would talk about me but not to me. When I was able to communicate people began to talk to me more regularly. I love being included even if I can’t join in easily.  I am becoming better able to integrate but I have to keep working at it daily. It is helpful if society puts in the effort to include me too.

I have been able to integrate into more mainstream education. This has been so beneficial to me. I have learned so much. I learn new things everyday. I have learned to manage myself better. I make friends. I have meaningful days. I am no longer in a cage.

I am now free to fly. 

First day of high school.

Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.




Sunday, September 3, 2017

I Need An Education

I think having a regular education has helped me by making my mind grow and learn how to be more purposeful. I have made lots of progress since my mom started teaching me academics using RPM. I loved learning new things about history and the natural world. I cared to learn more than how to follow commands in autism school. I am interested in learning about the world. I want to be able to change the world for better. I am learning that people become more able to affect change when they have a good education. I want to be a writer.

I think academics have helped me to be more aware of the world. I am more able to understand life and how people think. I can appreciate nature even more than before. I can make my thoughts known that I understand and I can have opinions about things. I also can write better from being exposed to better material.

I have been able to become more purposeful in my actions. Academic learning helped me by letting me use my brain toward solving problems rather than memorizing. I learned to practice answering questions using reasoning rather than by drilling. I had to point to choices and spell to show I could understand. I wanted badly to be able to express myself. I could not leave my world of distractions without being prompted to make an effort to stay on the shared attention of myself communicating and mom listening. I had to put aside my senses calling me to answer their every whim. RPM gave me the ability to put my purposeful thinking to the forefront. I still struggle with this way every day. I learned I needed to better make my mind focus if I were to express myself. I have to concentrate so hard to communicate. Lots of impulses compete with my desire to talk. Peace comes when my purpose wins over my senses. I am beating impetuous behavior with reason. I am making an effort to be with people more. I believe I can talk to others now because I have prompts to help me communicate. I want to not be a prisoner of my internal sensory world. 

I am able to do many things with support. The support I need is to prompt me to focus and stay on task. I make gains in my life each time I am taught something new. I am ready to try high school. I mean to do well. Having a well-developed curriculum will make school more enjoyable. I want to learn math, science, social studies, literature, and arts. I mean to learn life skills too but not all day. Life skills are hard for me because of my poor body control. I am better off using my brain. I am so locked in a body that does not listen to my mind. It is the most frustrating thing about autism. I maintain sanity by learning meaningful things. I lament I cannot do more. I need lots of practice to learn purposeful skills. I make lots of actions I don’t want to make. I need to be prompted to stop by redirecting me to what I need to be doing instead. I want to be less prompt dependent but I still need prompts or else I would be in my stim world all day.

I start high school on Tuesday. I hope I do well. I look forward to good classes. I will take global studies, music in our lives, read 180, keyboarding, and math. I look forward to good classes. I hear I am going to learn a lot.

Copyright 2017 Philip Reyes.  All rights reserved.