Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean that he/she doesn’t have a dream.
And one 18-year-old named Timothy Rohrer proved that to everyone when he wrote a pamphlet that seeks to guide people on how to effectively interact with people with disabilities.
That in itself is already remarkable enough. But what makes it even more remarkable is that Timothy is also autistic.
His guide, titled “How to be a Good Influence to People with Disabilities,” contains many helpful tips. For example, in one section he encourages people to reach out to disabled people just as they would anyone else.
“Invite them to join your group of friends,” he suggests. “People with disabilities want to have fun too. Invite them to sit with you at lunch or snack time. Even invite them to play with you on the playground during recess.”
Timothy also told Asbury Park Press: “This guide is not only for autism; it’s for all the other disabilities, too. It’s unfair for people with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy to be left out. Teenagers need to get out of their comfort zone and understand what (those with disabilities) are going through.”
And he knows exactly what he was talking about because he has experienced being ignored himself.
“Growing up with autism, I know how hurtful it is when people don’t give me the attention I desire when it comes to friendship,” he told APP. “I dream of getting invited to the same parties and same lunch table as everyone else, but people were not letting me do that.”
No one has been impressed more with Timothy’s accomplishments than his mother, Amy Rohrer. There was a time when she didn’t know what his future would be like.
“His language skills were extremely delayed,” she said. “His ability to have a conversation didn’t really happen until third or fourth grade. He’s come a long, long way.”
“He’s got the courage to speak up and get the word out. It’s awesome.”
The guide has gained a lot of praise and has been used by Autism Speaks, Autism New Jersey, and the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education. Timothy also managed to design a website to complement the flyer. He has also been asked to start presenting and he quickly agreed.
Tim’s former second-grade teacher, Joanne Schiumo, said: “The guide is tremendous. All of this was going on inside him all along, but you didn’t realize it. It’s really touched my heart.”
“I can still picture him sitting in his spot in our seating arrangement,” she continued. “He very rarely spoke. You didn’t know if you were connecting or not. To read the guide he’s put out, which is the epitome of everything I believe in, it’s absolutely amazing.”
“Approaching someone with a disability is more than just feeling sorry for them,” wrote Timothy on his website. “It’s about giving them compassion, friendship, and love!”
“With all of the fish in the sea, I hope can soon create an environment in which people with disabilities have collaborated with neurotypical people in their circle of friends and the chance for them to accomplish their dreams.”
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