The Cage3 min read

I am a non­speaking teen who types to com­mu­ni­cate. I learned to com­mu­ni­cate this way when I was nine years old. This was the year I learned Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) with Soma Mukhopadhyay, RPM’s cre­ator. My life changed for­ever the day I met Soma. 

Being able to com­mu­ni­cate after many years of silence was like being let out of a cage. I sat in this cage like a bird on dis­play at the zoo. People could not pen­e­trate the glass of my cage. 

I did my best to make myself at home in the cage. The cage was trans­parent and I could still sense the world. I could lose myself in the world of colors, shapes, pat­terns, and rhythms. 

I did not share my expe­ri­ences with others. I had no means to share my thoughts.  I learned to keep myself occu­pied by teaching myself through my senses. It was lonely not being able to com­mu­ni­cate with anyone out­side my cage. I prayed I could leave the cage everyday. My one com­fort was talking to God. I talked to him all the time. 

The cage only needed a key. If I could find someone with a key, I could get out. When I was nine my family went to Austin, Texas, where I met Soma. I saw she knew my sit­u­a­tion. She was my hope for opening my cage. I tried with all my energy to answer all her ques­tions by pointing to the choices and spelling. During that week my par­ents learned to see me in a whole new light. 

At home I could not do with my mom what I could do with Soma yet. Mom and I had to prac­tice a new way of inter­acting. I had to per­sist in working with Mom at lessons to make me able to listen, spell, and even­tu­ally express myself. 

Getting out of my cage was prac­ti­cally like escaping a max­imum secu­rity prison. Even though Soma had the key, I had many other obsta­cles. I had made lots of rou­tines in my cage that couldn’t be given up easily. Leaving them behind felt like betraying old friends. I made myself free of them by learning to trust God to pro­tect me out­side the cage. 

I began openly com­mu­ni­cating with Mom after months of RPM lessons. I could see more clearly through my mind’s clutter only after I became used to thinking through lessons that helped me cat­e­go­rize my thoughts and orga­nize them in a way I could access them better. My com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the greatest gift I ever received. Communication freed me from my cage. At last I could tell my thoughts and feel­ings to everyone. 

The world was sud­denly open. My cage slowly became dis­man­tled. For me this was both amazing and fright­ening. My greatest wish came true. I was free. 

But I was also more aware I now had new expec­ta­tions on me. Would I be able to handle them? I could interact with people, but I was dif­ferent. Would I be included? Could I be inte­grated into society like every neu­rotyp­ical person? I began to have more anx­iety about my new life. Sometimes I had melt­downs because over­whelming feel­ings could not be con­tained. 

Integrating into society has been mean­ingful to me. Before I could com­mu­ni­cate, I was treated like a beloved pet. I was loved but I was not seen as under­standing. People would talk about me but not to me. When I was able to com­mu­ni­cate people began to talk to me more reg­u­larly. 

I love being included even if I can’t join in easily.  I am becoming better able to inte­grate but I have to keep working at it daily. It is helpful if society puts in the effort to include me too. 

I have been able to inte­grate into more main­stream edu­ca­tion. This has been so ben­e­fi­cial to me. I have learned so much. I learn new things everyday. I learn to manage myself better. I make friends. I have mean­ingful days. I am no longer in a cage. 

I am now free to fly.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Philip. This is fab­u­lous! I would like to ask a ques­tion. As a “High-Functioning” Autistic I am told that I can’t speak for non-verbal Autistics. I KNOW we have a lot in common but many NT’s,especially par­ents don’t accept that we DO talk for many. Do you think it’s OK for me to advo­cate for non-verbal Autistics, as I do…passionately! In fact we are trying to get a non-verbal Autistic on our Think Tank for Aspect in Australia,of which I am a member, but we haven’t found ONE who uses a com­mu­ni­ca­tion device in Sydney. I don’t know if that is because there aren’t any or they haven’t seen our request. You wouldn’t know any would you?

    Peter Langdale https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-langdale-a72474a/

    1. Author

      hi Peter. I love when anyone advo­cates for non­speaking autis­tics. please keep advo­cating for us pas­sion­ately. I have a friend in Sydney who does rpm like me.

      1. Hi Philip, thanks! You keep being awe­some. Do you think your friend in Sydney might be inter­ested in a paid job in our Think Tank? How old is he? (I think he or she has to be over a cer­tain age..I’ll ask if your friend is inter­ested)

      2. Love the video! You look like you absolutely love it! Communication is unreal! We all do it in dif­ferent ways.

      3. Does your friend type as well?

        1. Could you let me know ASAP please. We REALLY need help and there is a meeting on Sept 2nd, if your friend would like to do this. We really are great people and would wel­come them with open arms!

          1. Please?

    1. “Them!”


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