Great column by Jerry Carino in the Asbury Park Press about a young New Jersey man who has written a pamphlet on how to treat people with disabilities. As a father who has dealt with a son with autism for almost 20 years, I am in awe of the pamphlet writer, Timothy Rohrer, of Millstone, who has autism. See the full article here.

Timothy Rohrer suffered from a speech delay (as do many children with autism) when he was younger and was not able to carry on a conversation until third or fourth grade, but now is an eloquent 18 year old. He no longer takes special education classes, but has been “mainstreamed” (a big milepost for autistic children and a goal of their parents). In the article, he describes his biggest challenge as being excluded by his peers. Again, as the parent of an autistic child, that, along with the lack of affection, the exclusion by his classmates, is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of his development. While my son has not encountered any overt hostility (as far as I know), he does eat lunch in the cafeteria by himself almost every day.

Young Mr. Rohrer decided to enlighten other people on how to be more inclusive by writing his pamphlet, “How to Be a Good Influence to People With Disabilities.” In it, he gives people pieces of advice, including addressing the problems of children eating alone at school and generally being excluded in most social activities. Timothy wrote and designed the pamphlet by himself. He has come a long way from being speech delayed. Teachers have already started using the guide in their classrooms and Timothy points out the advice in the pamphlet applies to people with other disabilities, too. I wish something like this had existed when my son was younger. He is now a senior in high school and, since it is almost time for his graduation, the chances of him being included in more things is pretty slim. You can download his pamphlet (as well as other advice) here.

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