9 year old non-speaking autistic boy writes touching letter to the President about racism and fear

Diego Pena

Nine-year old Diego Pena, who has a bestselling book on autism for parents, educators, and students, (an Art of Autism popular blog) recently wrote this letter to the President.

Diego Pena's Letter to the President

Diego’s mom, Edlyn Pena, says “The way it happened was he asked his communication partner Amanda about the KKK. I guess he had been hearing about it from the news and at home with the recent events in Charlottesville. So Amanda pulled up info online about the KKK and read it to him. Then she asked, do you want to write a letter to the President to express your feelings about this. He said ‘yes.'” Diego communicates through pointing to letters on a letterboard. Amanda transcribed the letter.

Diego is fully included in a general education classroom with his communication partner, Amanda. Diego also participates in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program in his district. Below is a picture of Amanda and Diego.

Diego Pena with Amanda

Diego’s dad, Damien Pena, shared the letter with the hashtag #Ilovemyson on Facebook. He writes “Diego is my little social justice warrior.”

Here is how you can contact the President.


7 replies on “9 year old non-speaking autistic boy writes touching letter to the President about racism and fear”
  1. says: Liz

    At the very least, he’s parroting what he’s heard his parents say. That’s an autistic trait, I have 3 boys on the spectrum, and am on the spectrum myself. At 9 years old, I wasn’t using that phraseology, and neither are my boys, “gifted’ or not (I have one with a gifted distinction as well, his IQ was evaluated at 135+). 9-year-olds don’t tend to talk like that, this was at best, coached/coerced, and at worst, actually written by an adult. Shame on them.

  2. says: Dan

    Why do you assume that he is not smart enough to write that himself? I am autistic and my standard of written language was also very advanced from a young age – just because he does not speak doesn’t mean he can’t communicate intelligent thoughts via other methods. Perhaps he had help with words such as ‘manifests’ though, but that is a small part of the letter. It’s a shame the mentally inadequate buffoon that is Trump won’t be able to read it.

    1. says: Liz

      The odds that he actually discovered and became interested in politics without his parents voice in it is slim to none. Nine year olds parrot their parents’ opinions, regardless of their level of function. If you can believe otherwise, I have a have a bridge I’d like to sell you! And when the hell did leaders of countries require input from children half the voting age, as if they have a clue how works? I’m not even a particularly Trump fan, though he’s infinitely better than the she-devil that wears pantsuits, but all the jealousy of Trump’s success is hilarious! Haha!

      1. says: Mick

        I was into politics and religious re-evaluation by eight years old. By some time in middle school, I had memorized key statistics for over a hundred countries and had fully formed opinions on most discussed partisan issues. I had also read through the beliefs most world religions, yay libraries. I couldn’t learn a thing about pop culture or glitter or whatever kids were into to save my soul but I had a better grasp of history and politics than most adults before middle school. I also, left my parents faith when I was seven or so after much doubt, I can’t remember my age definitively. Luckily my parents didn’t try to force someone as hard headed as I am into their world view, or they just got sick of fighting with me and are genuinely nice people. Short of actual abuse you can’t make a child go to church and behave if they are truly stubborn. Admittedly this letter does wax poetic, but it being written by a 9 year old is perfectly plausible especially if writing is his primary form of communication. Children who communicate mostly with adults (which would obviously be the case here) sometimes pick up adult speech patterns or in this case writing patterns. This sounds exactly like something I would say (not write) at that age, which might explain why I got bullied, lol. A Hispanic kid with a disability also has a greater incentive to pay attention to the actions of a leader who has a bigger problem with people who drink diet soda than terrorist groups who use his leadership as an excuse to assault and murder people like the letter writer. Check his twitter feed if you have any doubts. My coworker has had to explain to her 6 year that she is an American citizen and won’t be deported. Though now his administration is going after American citizens so that could change (her parents were Canadian). She has also had to explain to her 8 (seven at the time) year old, that the law will not change, she does not have to let a man touch her vagina, and just because the president did it does not make it OK. Kids pay attention and unless you lock them in a bubble, they will develop their own ideas and opinions. My coworker was not threatening her daughters with deportation or assault, this is just what they picked up from the atmosphere. Having the most visible man in the country continuing spewing crazy has that effect.

        1. says: Craig

          Exceptions are not the norm; neither is conflation, reality. As one who’s also on the spectrum, I’m not buy this.

  3. says: Jana

    I mean how can I believe any comment left here was typed by their so called author. Maybe someone influenced them to leave a reply. I believe all of you and I believe the boy too. It’s not like he’s paying hush money to a porn star and staring into an eclipse. It’s hard to believe a president would do that and it’s also true. Who would discredit a nine year old anti-racist in print on the internet calling him a parrot. What would be the point of that. What if we believe him and we build a better world then what—what will become us. I guess we’ll have bridge. I mean the bridge was always there for everyone whether we buy it or not. If you’re wrong and you treat a human being like a human being you risk what?

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