Top 10 things I need you to know

#1 Talk to me like you do everyone else, I understand everything you are saying even if it doesn’t always look like I do. Just talk to me like I am 13, or older, but not younger.

#2 Don’t talk about me in front of me. I can hear you, I can read your lips, I can read your body language. It is terrible. Sad.

#3 Talk directly to me, not my support person , or my mom, Russ, or my sisters.

#4 Focus on my strengths. I have many. We all do.

#5. Presume my competence. This is the most important thing.

#6  Never refer to my iPad as a toy. It is not it is my voice. Imagine if you could not speak with your mouth, how important your iPad voice would be. I know it takes awhile to get used to someone talking with their iPad. But you get used to it, and I depend on it. I must have my iPad. I need it as much as I need my hearing aid.

#7 If I don’t/can’t or want to say hi or bye,  don’t make me have this as a goal year after year after year.

#8 Don’t say “those” kids, or “my babies” . It’s really uncool.

#9 Be patient. It does not help if you ask me 10 times. I do need things repeated because of my hearing impairment, it is even better if you write it down. Most of the time, I am trying to do what you are asking, but my body works differently. I am patient with you.

# 10 Respect when I need to take a break.  I am just doing what I need to do to be able to learn in the classroom.

#11  If you feel uncomfortable if I do not respond to a hello do not worry. I am ok and I like that you said hello. Don’t try do something funny so I laugh if I don’t say hi.  Don’t say that thing that I laughed at one time two years ago because it makes you feel good to get me to laugh. I don’t like it. If you wouldn’t do the same to another kid, please don’t do it to me. It feels awkward.  I am a nice person and end up laughing and then it does not stop. The laughing and word that go with the movie of you are in my head. Then I see you again and you replace hello with water bottle. Now you think if you say “water bottle” that I think it means hello or your name. I don’t.

#12  Rewards not necessary. A real, “great job”, or a real “A”, like any other student. Please never ever give me a reward like watching youtube in class for listening in class.

#13 Do not treat me like a baby. I hate it. I do like when people help me, but I am working on it.

#14 I need the vocabulary and lesson plans in advance. I need to program everything into my iPad so I can join the class. I also need to learn the vocabulary first because I am hard of hearing.

#15 Listen to all communication. Not just typed.

#16 Remember, I am a person, just like you.

#17 You will be fine. Better even.

#18 Everyone needs a mentor. I have many.



About the Author:

In 2012 Henry faced disability based discrimination when he was denied entry to the middle school across the street from his home. Then 12 year old Henry started “I STAND WITH HENRY” to take action against the segregation and low expectations he encountered and to empower others to stand together and demand full access to equal education in their neighborhoods. Henry’s international social media campaign garnered tens of thousands of supporters and he was allowed entry into his neighborhood school after months of negotiation. Henry went on to excel not only in General Education but it Advanced Honors and Gifted classes.He was the 2013 Recipient of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network's Award for Service to the Self-Advocacy Movement. You can find Henry @istandwithhenry on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Anonymous October 2, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Thank you Henry!!
    Susan (mom to 12 year old daughter who also has autism and uses an iPad!)

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