Autism often leaves young men and women with profound thoughts but without the ability to share it or the audience to listen. Philip Reyes, 12 years old, is our youngest author to date and is autistic. His autism prevents him from communicating verbally, and until recently this meant the world of his thoughts, brilliant and profound as they are, were hidden behind his silence. New technology has allowed him, however, to discover his voice in the written word. In this short article Philip describes from his on experience how you can encourage your sons to engage young men like him, just as in need of friendship, and with a lot to offer anyone who is willing to take the time to listen.
We are honored to give Philip a place in Valor Magazine to express in his own words some important ways we can show love to those with disabilities.
- Say ‘Hi.’ Being acknowledged feels good. I want to respond and give you eye contact but sometimes I can’t find the words or make my body follow my mind’s commands. Please know I really like you.
- Talk to me normally. I am not a baby. I can understand everything you say. In my mind I have words I want to say to you, but I can’t.
- Try to include me in activities. I may not be able to do everything but just help me try. Encouragement to try really helps.
- Be patient. I cannot talk fast. Try not to finish my responses for me. Sometimes you don’t get it right. Let me speak for myself.
- I have a helper with me all the time. I know it is easier to talk to them about me, but please talk to me directly.
- I get distressed easily. If I get overwhelmed from too much stimulation like certain noises, too much motion, and feeling too crowded, I may need to take a break by taking a quick walk.
- Remember the Golden Rule: treat those with disabilities the way you would want to be treated. We all want to be accepted, respected, and to feel like a part of the group.
Through CSB I have grown a lot in my walk with Christ and have grown as a person with a disability. I’ve learned God uses everyone He chooses and gives everyone a role in His Kingdom.