This powerful poem from the book “MY VOICE, Autism, Life and Dreams” by self-advocate Amy Sequenzia says so much. We were fortunate enough to get to know Amy at ICI’s Summer Institute at MIT and are very grateful to her for allowing us to publish “My Voice, My Life” here. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Amy’s book, you can find her on Facebook.

My Voice, My Life

Look at me.
Go ahead, take a good look.
What do you see?
Weird? Silly? Pitiful? Can’t do anything?
You might feel sorry for me
You might pity me
You probably think I should be treated like a child.
I’ve heard and seen this before.
“Can she understand me?”
“Does she know what is going on?”
“How can she make choices?”
I understand your confusion
But it is time for me to come out.
Let’s just make something clear
I am autistic,
I am disabled,
I have many special needs,
I look different;
I need help eating, walking, moving around.
I do not need help
That’s what you do not see.
Look at me again.
What makes you think I don’t have an independent mind?
Have you tried to get to know me?
I have dreams, wishes, opinions.
I also have a disability
That prevents me to communicate like most people.
I have other disabilities that make me physically dependent on others.
That’s who I am
That’s who you might have to deal with.
Imagine how it would be
If you were discriminated against
Without a chance to show your inner self,
Without a chance to speak up.
That was my life for a long time
It hurt then.
The discrimination still goes on
It hurts now.
But I decided that I have more to say
Then you might want to listen.
I will make the best use of all my rights
As a human being.
I have a voice
It is MY voice
I now reach out to you.
If you want to enrich your life.
If you believe you can see beyond what other people tell you to see,
Come and meet me.
It will require patience
Because my way of processing
Feelings, thoughts, words, emotions
Is different.
But they still are
Feelings, thoughts, emotions and words.
I promise to be patient with you too
Because your way of communicating
Is also very strange to me.
I might even think it is weird.
I am growing as a person
I fight hard to make a difference.
It is now your turn   
Are you ready to grow as a person?
Are you ready to look at me
And see beyond the “normal”?
What is “normal” anyways?
Let’s try to understand each other’s languages
Try to learn what is so clear
There is no “normal”
There is Diversity
And that’s why we are so unique

Copyright 2011 by Amy Sequenzia