Jackson Cook is one impressive 8-year old. He took a very brave step at the beginning of his school year at the Twin Cities German Immersion School, where he is in the third grade, by giving a speech about autism. You see, Jackson, nicknamed Jax, wanted his new class to understand why he’s easily frustrated or avoids eye contact – and why he needs extra help sometimes. So, with help from his mom, Jax wrote a heartfelt speech, which he read to his class. In it, he shared:
“Raise your hand if you know what autism is. Raise your hand if you know that I have autism. It makes some parts of my brain work really well and some parts of my brain work not very well. Doctors don’t know what makes some brains have autism and some brains not have it. I have it, but Charley doesn’t, even though he’s my twin brother.
Sometimes I need help learning things that other brains automatically know. Like my brain tells my body that it is not comfortable to look at someone in the face when they talk to me.
The autism in my brain is something that I like, and something that I don’t like, but it’s part of me, just like your brain is part of you.”
When asked about Jax’s speech, one of his classmates said, “I thought it was a good speech because it was really nice and really brave.”
Yet another truly amazing and inspirational story…this video from KABC in California features Dillan Barmache, a teen who is non-verbal, but with the aide of his iPad was able to address his fellow middle school classmates during graduation.
Dillan spells out words letter by letter, and the iPad’s speech synthesizer vocalizes the words for him, allowing him, for the first time, to express himself. And Dillan used his speech synthesizer to present his graduation speech, which touched on the challenges he has had as well as the opportunities they will face in high school. Here’s an excerpt (KABC published Dillan’s speech):
When I examine each day, it’s just incredible how a student, an autistic one, could ever feel a part of a class of future academics. Education is a better institution when all students have opportunity, plus a chance to take an idea and see the lessons within. With your mind, no one can place limits on where an idea can take you. Living without a voice creates almost no way to be heard, but there are people who refuse to think in a box. Open your mind in high school. You will learn to think about different ideas, and examine new findings. Always look inside other peoples experience in order to gain another perspective outside of books. Only then are we able to start opening our eyes to the amazing things around us.
And, rightfully so, his speech was met with a standing ovation! Congratulations to Dillan and his classmates!