Special Needs Now

What's It Like to Have Autism? Two Kids With Autism Answer!

Autism advocates have a saying: "If you want to know about autism, ask an autistic person." So, as we wrap up Autism Awareness/Acceptance month, I thought I'd do just that. I asked two young bloggers, Philip and Emma, about their autism, their parents, and quite a bit more. Their answers are incredible, and I am thrilled to share them with you!

Meet Phillip

Phillip

Philip, age 12, is a proud boy with autism who types to communicate. Living in silence until age 9, Philip had his breakthrough in communication by learning to spell his thoughts on a letterboard through Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). He now types on an iPad and uses a voice output program to speak his words. He is partially mainstreamed in the 6th grade. He participates in Christian Service Brigade (a scouting group) and soccer. He has many friends. Philip is an aspiring writer and has his own blog, Faith, Hope, and Love with Autism, in which he shares his experiences and advocates for others like himself.

What is it like to be autistic?

Being autistic is all I know. Many times I like it. I appreciate nature and God. I have keen senses. I am smart and enjoy thinking about the world. Many times autism is hard and a cave of loneliness. This is because we get isolated due to misunderstanding. Lack of speech and difficulty with movement betray our intelligence and desire for each relationship. I am doing much better now that I can communicate. People understand me now.

How have your parents helped you learn and grow?

My parents help me by always believing in me and never giving up. Having attentive parents helps me not be alone too much that I don't grow. My parents take action in finding ways that help me best. RPM has been my best panacea for my inability to communicate my thoughts. My mom works with me everyday teaching, reading interesting books, and allowing lots of time to practice writing and expressing myself. My parents make my life as normal as possible. I play with them. We go bowling, play soccer, and go to movies. I get together with friends. I have autistic friends I talk to. I attend normal school. I go to church.

What would you like other parents to know about autistic kids?

Parents should know their child wants to be understood. He wants to be able to communicate with words but often can't. He needs you to find a way because he can't do it without your love and support. It is frustrating to be misunderstood. Lots of wrong assumptions are made about people who don't speak. Make the presumption of competence instead.

What would you change about the world if you could?

I would make accommodations readily available to all people needing them. I think a world that is inclusive of all people is the best because we each have gifts to offer.

Any other writings or thoughts?

People should never give up on finding a way for us to communicate what we really think and feel.

Watch videos of Philip's amazing progress through RPM.

Meet Emma

Emma

Emma is a 13-year-old girl with autism living in New York City. She is a public speaker and writer, and she likes to sing on stage. Emma applauds those who have found, or are in the process of finding, their individual voice as she has, through typing. Emma has had the opportunity to present at several conferences and schools around the country. Her writing has been published on her blog, Emma's Hope Book, Special Parent magazine, and HALO's 2014 edition of Voices. She is also featured in the upcoming book, Typed Words, Loud Voices.

What is it like to be autistic?

I know of no other way of being, so ask yourself -- What is it like being human?

How have your parents help you learn and grow?

My parents enjoy my company. They believe in my abilities and encourage, teach, and enthusiastically applaud my successes. You remember cheering hard efforts with a grateful heart.

What would you like other parents to know about their autistic kids?

I cannot speak for other kids, but being able to type what I really want to say has made all the difference.

What would you change about the world if you could?

Save our planet from man's disregard and give humans more compassion for all living things. Greatness almost always comes from acts of tremendous love.

Any other writings or thoughts you'd like to include?

Behave like the person you most admire and understand.

Read more of Emma's writings below:

Jamie Pacton lives near Lake Michigan where she drinks loads of coffee, dreams of sailing, and enjoys each day with her husband and two sons, Liam and Eliot. Find her at www.jamiepacton.com, Facebook (Jamie Pacton), and Twitter @jamiepacton

Images of Philip and Emma provided by their parents.