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If you ever wondered what it feels like to be on the autism spectrum, here is a compelling revelation from David D’Muhala. I met David when he was three years old. He did not speak and we did not know how he felt or what he was thinking. It was evident that he was smart from the beginning and we knew he had a lot of potential. It was not until middle school when he started FC- Facilitated Communication that we got a glimpse into his world. This voice has made all the difference in David’s life. This article is such a triumph and celebration for David, his family and all the people who work with him. As an Occupational Therapist and a Board member of GMAS, I feel strongly that anytime we can give someone the spotlight to share their insights, use their voice and educate others we should share that information. I hope you enjoy David’s article that he wrote for the school newspaper. – Marcy Pelkey, OT

 

I am a person with autism, and that might sound scary to most people. 

Autism is different for every person. In my life, I am thinking about what I want to say, but it doesn’t always make it out of my mind. I am really just like everyone with real thoughts that are very meaningful, and even though I am not able to say what I am thinking, I am every bit as smart as every one that is talking to me.

My autism is ruled by automatic thoughts and behaviors. Automatics are what are really always right up in the front of my anxious thoughts. They are constantly filling my head. They make me anxious and also make me act in all kinds of scary ways. In my mind I am just like everyone would expect me to be, but on the outside I am forever doing something ridiculous. It is so tiring and it can feel like it is hopeless.

I began using my voice through typing in eighth grade. A typing support person gives assistance by providing resistance to my arm as I type, so I am able to work out real thoughts and try to type them instead of the automatics that always have a hold on my mind. I need to have support for my school work. I need to have a team all the time who helps me have a meaningful life by typing with me all the time. If I don’t have good  supported typing, then I am lost in my mind.  My working with supported typing has been a medication, kind of like being given a great pill to make me alive. I need to do the hard work of typing my true thoughts so that the world will see the real me and not the crazy autistic man of the automatic behavior.

I need really great trained staff to not feel isolation in my home and in class.  The person I need to support my life at home is my dad.   I am dependent for everything on my dad always. Automatics leave me helpless for my life, getting in my way whenever I try to do the most basic things. My dad works with me to keep me on track.

The people I need at school are  Philip Scott, Rita Angione, Harvey Lavoy, Kate Bradley, Marcy Pelkey, Dave Gabaree, Chris Player, Rachel Duffy, Reeves Larson, Lesley Schuster, Peter McCarthy, Phil Grant, and Chad Herman. These people try to work with me really hard to help me, instruct me, and include me in school.  I am thinking that I am pretty lucky. In school people have always included me and tried to help me learn. That has made my life meaningful. 

My life with autism in school is okay, but we are always looking forward to a day when I will talk without support.