I have always related very, very well to the children in my classes who had autism. I understand their world well. I understand their sensory defenses and communication problems quite well also. Quite a number of times I've been called a "Miracle Worker" with what I've been able to do with the amazing little ones I've had in my class. Autism is something I know deep in my heart.
But I've got to say that even I was amazed when I saw Carly F. on 20/20 last week. Did you happen to catch her story? She is an incredible young woman of 13 who has autism. She was incorrectly diagnosed as mentally retarded because she happens to have a lot of the typical autistic behaviors of "stimming" such as hitting herself, flapping her hands, banging her head, and not being able to talk. People thought those behaviors=no mind. But. Carly had a surprise for everyone when at 11 (I hope I'm getting all this info correct) she began typing--by herself-- on a computer and communicating that way.
And what she writes is truly, absolutely, amazing. She writes about what its like to have autism. She writes how she sees herself as just a normal girl trapped in a body she can't control, about why she stims like she does. Carly is a gifted writer and communicator. It just took some time for her to figure out how to get the words out.
I know how that goes.
Carly has her own website at http://carlysvoice.com/ if you would like to check her out. Please do. And next time you see someone with special needs, don't judge them. And next time you want to give up on someone, don't. Because they may just surprise you.