Before coming to college I had never had an extra thought for autism. In my mind it was a mental disability that some people had and I didn’t. Nobody in my life had autism, but I do have a mentally handicap aunt. That is the closest experience I have had and she is fully equipped to tell you just how she feels.
Filbert changed my worldview. I did not realize how naive I was towards autism. Filbert is the most hilarious and happiest boy I know. I started off reading books aloud to him the first semester of my freshman year. It was different from any situation I had ever dealt with. He talked, but not always what he wanted to say. Something I had to learn was that when he repeated phrases that was not because he didn’t hear or misunderstand you, he fully understood.
My experience really changed when I watched an RPM lesson for the first time in person. Filbert was capable to answer questions. He would be voicing different phrases from his mouth while his hands paid attention to the lesson. My body was able to listen to my brain and function in a precise way while his had this whole different channel. That was incredible. He is so intelligent, way smarter than I was at his age. He is for sure smarter than I am now.
At that moment I didn’t realize that I would have the privilege of doing RPM with Filbert. My first RPM lesson, during my second semester, went great for a beginner. He was so patient with me and excited. He pointed accurately and just gave me a great show. There have been times where different stims excite him too much and it gets difficult, but the times that he is able to visibly show me what he has learned have been worth it all. The first time I heard him say, “hi Miss Erin,” melted my heart. The times that I get a dance party or hug after a session are extremely entertaining. Our shared poop jokes and laughter are great times well spent with a funny boy. He has the biggest heart for God and the strongest faith of anyone that I know. He has taught me way more than I could ever teach him.