The inner voice of a sixteen-year-old boy
Hi everyone, my name is Dante. I am sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and ever since the day I entered middle school I have always been on the high honor roll. After I graduate from high school, I will be enrolled in Lemoyne College. I can’t wait! I love going to school! I learn more and more every day and I get to spend time with my many friends and the wonderful and caring teachers. I love reading books and participating in all kinds of what I call “fun stuff”. In the summertime, I spend most of my days swimming and just hanging out around the pool. I’ve always considered water, nature, animals, the wind, the stars, and the sky as friends. When I was very young, people always wondered why I didn’t talk much, I never looked at them, and why I was always pointing and writing letters in the air. When I overheard someone say how much I preferred to be by myself, it made me feel desperately lonely. It still does.
I love to go for long walks, and many times I would just take off running as fast as I can for no good reason and I couldn’t seem to stop. Nature and all that is a part of it feels like a comfortable blanket that is wrapped around me to keep me safe and warm. I love music concerts with lots of people around me, and my mom and grandmother always have to drag me away from the State Fair every year. I’m usually way too pumped up on caffeine. One time I didn’t sleep for three days!
My best friend is my new thirteen-year-old sister Alyssa. We’ve always been inseparable. I’m a real fussy eater and when I throw temper tantrums or do something wrong, I get told off or laughed at but Alysa is always there to calm me down. Then there are the times when I drive my mother crazy. She may not be aware of it, but sometimes she drives me nuts too. All of this sounds pretty “normal” doesn’t it? Well, in my world it is.
The world can be a scary place for everyone, but more so for those like me who have a hard time expressing themselves. We know what we want to say, but the words sometimes get lost somewhere in our heads among lots of other stuff swirling around. Sometimes I just repeat things people tell me to say. Even so, I have been known at inappropriate times to shout out some pretty choice words. If you’ve ever met someone like me who has a hard time “fitting in”, you should spend time with them, I’m sure they would like that a lot. I keep changing over time, just like you because my brain is wired differently than yours.
I guess by now you may have figured out that I live in a world referred to as the Autism Spectrum. Now before you go on feeling sorry for me, please don’t. You see I am no different than you or any other kid my age. I live a happy and fulfilled life thanks to the people who love me; especially my mom and my grandmother. From the day I was born I have been surrounded by angels. They are my friends. You may not think they exist, but they do. Over time I have grown to be able to do a number of things that I couldn’t do when I was younger, and nowadays I’m a lot sunnier.
From what I see, it’s time to celebrate the things that make us different, as well as what makes us the same. Let’s face it, we’re equal, we’re different, we all need one another, and that no one should be left out or alone. Spending time with other people with disabilities like me will be a rare look for you inside a beautiful mind; an entry into an entirely unknown world. By listening to each other’s “voice”, we will understand its echoes and stretch our vision of what it means to be human. It will astound you, ground you, and I know that I and other people like me will feel less alone. I just want to be the best person I can be.
I hope my words will help you understand how painful it is when you can’t express yourself to the people you love. If what I have said connects with your heart in even some small way, then I believe you’ll be able to connect back to the hearts of other people with Autism.
Well, that’s it for now. Helping people is such an easy thing to do. All you have to do is show up!
Maybe I’ll come back someday so we can talk some more. I guess I’ll talk, you’ll listen. Sorry, I still get mixed up sometimes.
Until then, be kind, be careful, and just be yourself!