At the Autism Movement Therapy Certification Workshop on March 10, 2013, Neal Katz used his electronic communication device to give the class this profound message.
“I’ve listened enough. It’s time for me to speak, however it may sound. Through an electronic device, my hands, or my mouth. Now it’s your time to listen. Are you ready?”
“I can not speak. For whatever reason, G-d has intended for me to be mute. Many people might believe that I can not think, but despite their thinking, I can. What’s more is that I listen. A lot of people may stare at me, and when they do, I listen to their body movements and eye gaze. I listen to their ignorance. I listen because I have no choice but to take in the world in the way I can.
Listening is different from hearing. When you hear someone, you simply recognize that they are emoting sounds. When you listen to someone, you actually process what they are saying and internalize it.
What do I think of the people who stare? Let’s break it down. What they are saying is that they are unsure of me. They can’t quite figure me out and don’t know how to categorize me. They are saying that I am not the way they are. That something’s not right.
Now for the second part, how I internalize it. I used to have some issues with this. I used to believe the stares and thought there was something wrong with me. I used to get down on myself for not fitting in. Now, I am much more confident in myself and my diagnosis. I am an advocate for autism awareness, an emissary, if you will. I welcome the stares and I wish people would actually ask, “What’s different about you?” I’ve internalized that some people are uninformed, not knowledgeable about special needs, and need to learn about neurological differences. I don’t take it personal anymore.
I’ve listened enough. It’s time for me to speak, however it may sound. Through an electronic device, my hands, or my mouth. Now it’s your time to listen. Are you ready?”
-Neal Katz 8/30/12