The only thing that helps me calm my body is running. I really need it like air. To be a part of a really amazing group of people which also have running in their hearts is like nothing I have felt before. So a few days ago I ran in the first cross country meet. That day I easily thought about not running, but then I realized that I had the opportunity to just try. Having the practice and support from the other members of my team behind me motivated me to try. In some especially strange way, their support allowed me to dare myself.
(Written for Enhanced Lit class – 9th grade 10/1/14 – Dillan was asked to write a letter to his parents as one of his own teachers)
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Barmache,
I am Dillan’s teacher, and I have laughed at the idea of having an autistic student in my class until I met Dillan. Matter of fact, I never thought a student who could not speak and could not control himself would have thoughts at a level of other students. I’ve been able to get to know many of Dillan’s strengths, as well as his challenges. I feel that some of the necessary skills that a student needs to succeed are quite evident in Dillan. For example, he always tries taking a break to allow himself a chance to calm. And he never quits so long as caring people around him support his attempts. Also, patience is a quality, and I see having autism must require having an enormous amount of it. And finally, I see how Dillan really wants to be challenged. And I hope he always will be.
(Written for Enhanced Lit class – 9th grade 10/9/14)
I acted autistic. Each day listening to directions was so hard. The teacher tried to heal my pain with lessons that were simple since she assumed I did not understand. I essentially appeared to many as an autistic wild student and for that reason alone, it was assumed I can’t have any interest in learning. Reality placed me in an impossible position. Yes, I wanted to learn, but the impossible pace of my sensory needs were always winning the battle. So I acted in the only easy way I could. The teacher needed to rely on her skills to help me. I know I was a difficult child and I easily lost myself in my sensory experiences. The teacher tried to pull my attention and interrupt my love of toys. How would you respond if each time you had your entire reason for some small amount of happiness taken from you? I reacted badly. I learned to manage my behavior as long as I could to earn some reward. On the outside I learned to have better behavior, but on the inside I was hardly living. The one thing I learned is that you are either gaining a real perspective about autistic people or a totally different one, and the autism educators today have a lot to carefully consider.
(written for Enhanced Lit class – 9th grade 9/24/14)
On a simple level, my mind saw the world. At each moment, patient adults attempted to alter and take my autism away. They needed to teach much to get my sensitivities under control. You see, to need to learn these abilities to me seemed only normal, and eventually I would not be autistic. It was not, I guess, until we went to see people teaching to other little kids, each without autism, that I made my tiny first step in realizing that only we autistic, insightful, sensitive, people are being taught their colors over and over. And having arrived at the understanding that not all people are autistic, and I will always be, was the day I started to grow up.
(Essay for Landscaping class 8th grade – 3/21/14)
I have always liked rose bushes. They are so beautiful and colorful. They on, any given day, have the chance to bloom or lose their petals. Roses are even able to change how our surroundings smell. They can take a plain area of land and so easily turn it into a living work of art. I love the way they get old and actually wither. I easily open them and feel their softness and delicate skin. I deal in all senses so I smell, look, and feel roses, only each time I pick them, I am sorry they are only living long enough to make me happy.
I often wonder about lots of things but really what I think about the most is the injustice of how people with autism are existing.
Our existence is not really living.
Regardless, I believe that in the right relationship amazing things can happen.