The letter and poem below were written by James Arricale, a special education English teacher at Memorial High School in New Jersey. He and his fellow teachers and students are Lighting Up Blue for the month of April, Autism Awareness Month!
I want to first start off by saying that what you do is the purest form of compassion; having started my educational career as an ABA therapist, I saw firsthand—and continue to witness—how families learning to adapt to this challenging yet rewarding lifestyle benefit from the services—both informatively and financially—that are provided by your organization. With it being Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to acknowledge what you have meant to me and my students with a small token of my appreciation.
As I was finishing grad school I was taking a writing class and was asked to write a preface to an essay about a topic that was influencing and shaping the landscape of American society. As an ABA therapist at the time of this assignment, I immediately thought of the undiscriminating nature of autism and how it has penetrated all factions of American society. What I created was a short poem that embodied everything I thought was poignant, and at the same time subtle, about autism.
I’ve had conversations without using words
But understood everything that was heard
Trapped inside but free to explore
The world around them and so much more
A blink of an eye, a glance, a nod
Signal to me what words cannot
A day, a month, an hour or week
It may take us to realize that Autism Speaks
A hug, a squeeze, that echo a thought
Bring peace and comfort to lives who've fought
To understand ASD
The Beauty, The Complicated, The Tireless, The Uneasy
The potential to be a person who solves
Life's pressing issues with unwavering resolve
Adding to our world a mind so unique
That if we listen carefully, we'll hear Autism Speaks
We are going to Light It Up Blue this month and continue to do our best in improving the lives of our students. What your organization does is nothing short of remarkable and the advocacy and and unrelenting conviction that Autism Speaks has in trying — and succeeding — in making the world a better place for people and families learning to adapt with this extraordinarily complex disorder is unequivocally — priceless.
In a year that has seen many changes to education, it's comforting to know that there is an organization like Autism Speaks that is dedicated to do the one thing that truly matters in the world of education: Improving the students' quality of life.
Thanks again, and we will continue to #LIUB today, and every day.