A Letter to Writers About Autism

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My name is Philip and I am proud to be Autistic. I write to communicate. Authors who write about us should first learn from us. I am letting authors know Autistic people are awesome. In their stories they should present us as whole characters with interests and personalities. I am naturally an introvert but not all Autistics are. We are many varied people with different interests and personalities.

It is common to think Autistics are in their own world. We are treated as if we don’t belong here in this society. We are often separated into our own schools and places. People do not want us around to upset their perfect view of an orderly world. We are more than what we seem. Autistic people need characters we can identify with. Neurotypical kids need better understanding of us.

There are things about Autistics many people don’t understand. I would like to explain myself. I am non-speaking. My voice is manifested in my writing. I need support from someone to hold my letter board or keyboard and keep me on track. Without support I have no voice that is understood. People don’t always believe it is me talking, but the more they see me and get to know me, the more they believe. I talk out loud through Assistive Express, an app on my iPad that speaks what I type. Technology is an important part of my life. People should respect my communication. People should be caring to allow us accommodations in school and society.

I am listening. I am very much a part of this world. I hear everything around me. When people talk as if I am not there, I still hear it. Autistics are used to hearing about how burdensome they are. They hear about how upsetting their actions are and how much they still need to fix about themselves. I am worried someday people might want to prevent Autistics from being born. Mean actions and alarming messages from misguided autism charities hurt us. Acceptance and love is my soul’s desire.

Philip ReyesNeurotypicals see the world differently than me. In my experience, many are pragmatists. We Autistics are artists and mathematicians and philosophers. I am a thinker about the world. I am resistant to questioning my worth based on my performance in the world’s standards of productivity. I go by God’s standard that I am worthy because I am made in His image. Pragmatists address getting things done. The faster the better. I am a philosopher. I think deeply. I use my senses to enjoy God’s creation. I listen closely to the sounds of nature so that I can appreciate a momentary wandering wind or the call of a robin to its babies. I see vividly. I love looking at nature closely. A crawling ant can lift a leaf many times its size. Water in all its ways soothes me. I delight in seeing my reflection in still water. Blue water mesmerizes me like nothing else. I love a sunny beach. Like me, waves go on quests, bringing with them fish to share their journey. I need others to travel with me. Each wave is always changing like questioning minds. I am an explorer. Part of me wants to live in the wilderness. I am aware of God’s presence all around me.

Autism affects not only my ability to communicate, but also how I move. A lot of my flapping, jumping, and pacing helps me feel my body in space. I often feel like I am floating in space without gravity to anchor me to earth. A lot of energy is spent spelling because of the concentration it takes to move my body precisely. But it’s worth it. The motivation to be heard is the greatest of all.

These are some thoughts about my life as an Autistic. People should be able to read about Autistic people from their perspective. Authors should write about us respectfully. I love my quest to bring Autism awareness to the world. I blog to tell people what Autism is really like. Although I don’t talk with my mouth, I have a lot to say. An Autistic mind sees things others miss and feels things as would a person who feels the earth with a different set of rules and gravity. My aim is not to become more normal but to become part of normal life. The life we all want is to be valued and accepted. People are more understanding now that I can communicate. I wish all Autistic people could be understood. I dream of a world in which all people are valued equally. I think we can achieve it if we start listening more. We each bring our gifts to the world.



About Author

Philip Reyes

Philip Reyes, age 12, is a proud Autistic who types to communicate. Living in silence until age 9, Philip had his breakthrough in communication by learning to spell his thoughts on a letterboard through Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). Since then he has been able to attend public school where he is partially mainstreamed. He also participates in Christian Service Brigade (a scouting group) and soccer. He has many friends. Philip is an aspiring writer and has his own blog Faith, Hope, and Love with Autism in which he shares his experiences and advocates for others like himself.

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27 Comments

  1. Margaret Owen Thorpe on

    Philip, you are an awesome human with a great, insightful mind. It is wonderful to see the world in a different way. Keep being the wonderful young man that you are. Wow – a great essay!

  2. You have truly touched my heart, challenged me to slow down and enjoy the world around me. I enjoyed reading your essay, so articulate! Keep writing and teaching all of us!

  3. am so touched to have an inner understanding of your life which can be helpful to understand my sons and their behaviour. thank you and wish to read more from you.

  4. Keep writing Phillip what you are doing is powerful. As a proud mum to a beautiful boy who is on the spectrum I love that you are providing this perspective! I am constantly frustrated with people assuming people with autism don’t want to communicate it has nothing to do with a lack of desire to connect with others it’s about having the tools to do it. I’m so pleased you have found the tools to gI’ve you a voice.

  5. Thanks for putting into words the things I know about Autistics. My son is 10 and his autism has shown me that he has amazing things to teach those of us willing to see into his view of the world. Love is at the center of it all. Prayers that your messages reach all those that need to hear it most.

  6. Hello Philip,
    Beautiful thoughts. My son who is also on the spectrum, 9 years old and non verbal too communicates by writing and typing quite similar to you. And the thoughts he expreses are as beautiful and powerful as yours. They stump me often with the depth of emotion and thought they exhibit.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Philip.

  7. Thank you for your courage and your proud faith in God. You are an incredible person with a bright future! I was so moved by what you wrote….and I feel more hopeful for my son who is 7 and Autistic. Keep writing and inspiring. God bless you!

  8. What a beautiful testimony yours is of the love of Christ and His truth about how and why He created people to live with Autism. There are so many amazing gifts inside each person with Autism!! You have an incredible ability to put into words what many people with Autism feel and think. Thank you for sharing this amazing gift with the world. Keep it up – never stop!

  9. I’m reasonably sure NTs are not pragmatists by default. If they cared about results before anything else, they’d be more flexible. Maybe more pragmatic than me, though, if it’s on a scale. I’m the sort of person who enjoys the journey.

  10. Kathryn Weller on

    I loved reading your blog. I have a 14 year old daughter with aspergers and I have been unhappy with the way autistics are portrayed by the media as being difficult or comedy characters. I have written a novel with the main character as an autistic woman who shows the people around her how shallow and materialistic they are but remains a strong and heroic character herself that others grow to love. The world needs to embrace the strengths of autistics as we have much to learn from their unique perspective.

  11. you are amazing!! its so great to be able to learn how you think and feel about autism and your relation to the world. hopefully more children would be able to communicate as well as you have done with the help of technology. you are so smart and so brave! keep going with your writting, you are changing the life of so many others!!

  12. Thank you for your comments about Autism. Very insightful. I am so glad you are sharing your feelings and experiences with others to bring about a better understanding of what we face daily.

  13. As a mom of a child with autism, I felt so hopeful reading your post, Philip. My son, Luis, was diagnosed with autism 4 years ago and has been thriving in an environment where acceptance and tolerance are valued. Keep writing and inspiring people.

  14. I’m an autistic adult, and reading stuff like this gives me some hope for the future. Because you write pretty darn well (that’s an understatement) and the way you think makes a lot of sense to me. Great job – I hope by the time you’re my age, people understand a bit better about what we are and how we see the world.

  15. Autistic adult here, and thank you Phillip for a beautiful essay.
    Also seconding the comment on how you write very well. Or thirding? I’ve seen a few of comments with that idea, but it’s true.

  16. Philip, you are an amazing, eloquent writer! I have a son with autism who is twelve, turning 13 in May, and he is very social as well. You are an inspiration to many and your words are a blessing.

  17. Philip, we are listening to your amazing words. I have two children who are Autistic. One speaks to communicate, and the other types to communicate. Both have amazing voices and perspectives.

  18. Thank you Philip for sharing us your story. My tears keep going down while I am reading it.. Please write more to tell the world that people with autism should be loved and understand…

  19. Wow! This was eye-opening. Thank you for writing this and educating people, like myself, who are unfamiliar with what autistic people face. Our society often shuts out people that seem “different.” I write, and I’m hoping to be a published novelist in the near future. I think it’s important to portray our characters with accuracy and empathy, and as a woman of color I know that in the media and pop culture, this is often not the case for people of color, the LGBTQ community, women, people with disabilities etc. I want to be able to authentically represent all types of people as characters in my stories, and your article is a great starting place for me to learn.

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