Nonverbal Boy Pens Must-Read Article About Autism
Philip Reyes is a seventh grader at Heim Middle School in Williamsville, New York, and he recently wrote a piece about autism and communication for The Buffalo News. Reyes is nonverbal, uses Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) to communicate, and he hopes sharing his story will give other nonverbal kids the same opportunities as him.
“I am attacking the idea that autism is a bad thing that should be eradicated,” Reyes wrote. “For me, autism is a different way of sensing, moving and interacting with the world.”
“When people talked about my concerning behaviors in front of me I would feel embarrassed and pent-up shame,” he added. “I was made to feel horrible for my autism.”
Reyes didn’t start using RPM until he was 9, and he wrote that the results were life-changing:
I have been lucky that my parents never made the mistake of giving up on finding a way for me to communicate. I appreciate the value of communication because it allows a person to be known.
Before communication, I felt like a caged animal because I had no say in my life. Since finding my voice, I feel more human, as people listen to my words. Most people forget how lucky they are to be able to talk. I was not one of the lucky ones. But I was fortunate to learn to type to communicate. Through RPM, I learned to show I could learn normally and communicate.
It has been three years since I learned RPM. During that time I was able to switch from an autism school where I learned basic letters and numbers up to 5, to a regular public middle school where I am included in regular classes. I am with good teachers who understand me. I also have been able to try more new things like riding a bike and playing soccer.