When soldiers go to battle, they never go alone or without a plan. They carefully plan their attack with a strategic map. Their leader is in charge of carrying out the plan. He is the Warrior. My name is John Smyth and my goal is lead people with autism through the battle they fight everyday. A battle to communicate and respond to the world outside the confines of autism. Its like being a prisoner in a dark dungeon where you are trapped and starving.
I have been trapped for sixteen years. I had no voice, or at least I thought. It was a cold and dark place where feelings didn’t exist. I felt lonely and afraid. I wanted more but didn’t know how to get it. I was told I was special which usually meant behaviorally retarded or stupid. Don’t get me wrong they never said that, but it was implied.
School was the place most went to get smarter, but for me it was a place that made me feel different and stupid. I was always placed in a class with students that had brain damage or physical limitations and were severely mentally impaired. I always felt sorry for them, but knew I didnt really belong. You see my brain works just fine, in fact it is smarter even than my same age peers. The problem I had did not have anything to do with smarts but my inability to effectively communicate how smart I actually was. I was and still am embarassed to be in life skills class. You see to me it makes me look retarded, and I’m certainly not!
In 2010 I found a teacher who knew how to give me a voice, and free me from the dungeon of autism. I experienced life as I never had before. It was and still is a very difficult world for me to adjust to. I want to be free of the dark and empty cell so badly, but have gotten so comfortable, that the bright lights sometimes hurts my eyes. It causes me to want to just quit and go back where I’m comfortable, but, I know I cant.
I want all children and adults who struggle with autism to learn about supported communication (facilitated communication). God in his mercy allowed me to meet Ms Poorman when I was ready, and she worked for Him to give me a voice. My vision is to help others receive this fine gift, and not waste one minute in a life skills class feeling stupid. I am a warrior and they can be one too if given a voice. I need all schools to believe in this and learn it. My school isn’t ready to believe in it yet, but my parents , Poorman and I pray every day that they will find it in their hearts to get training and believe. Many other schools and children are having great success and I pray that together we can fullfill what I believe to be God’s plan and that all children have the voice he intended them to have and others will hear.
copyright 2011 John Smyth
April 22, 2011