(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.
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.
The process of coming out of autism was and still is a constant struggle that I experience every day. People need to understand that all of us autistic people make decisions about the people trying to help us too. We are so reliant on outside support that we live with a sort of connection, and a type of understanding is formed with our therapists. I have had so many people try and help me, but what so often occurred was an inevitable process that was impossible to change. Living with autism is so hard mainly cause I have to rely so much on the experience and understanding of others. Appearing to be kind only goes so far. Autism is a total overwhelming sensory experience for everyone involved. How therapists respond is the key that each of us looks for when we begin our journey with a therapist.
To each autistic person living without a voice, I hope you find a person in your existence that will believe in you, try to connect with you, and most importantly, do it always with respect and belief in your abilities to think.