Unfortunately, Teddy's plan didn't play out the way he'd hoped it would. According to an article in the Bucks County Courier Times,
During a morning meeting last week, when a teacher talked about autism, Teddy raised his hand to share his story. But he said he was taken aside and told that autism is something “personal” he should keep to himself.
Teddy doesn't understand what's wrong with talking about autism.
The disorder is just a part of who he is. Sort of like how some people have red hair and others are better at math.
Teddy's school principal doesn't seem to share his perspective, explaining her position by saying, “There are other children in classrooms who don't realize they are different than anyone else. I need to look at the privacy of others.”
In other words, it seems that the principal thought it would be in students' best interest to: 1) deny Teddy an opportunity for self-advocacy and empowerment; 2) forego a significant learning opportunity for neurotypical children - not just an opportunity to learn about autism, but also an opportunity to engage in conversation about sensitivity and about appreciating difference; and 3) forfeit the potential for autistic students to be better understood because, she believed, some of them might be unaware that they are misunderstood.
I'm afraid that the principal's unspoken message to Teddy - and to all of the students she is trying to protect - might have been this: Autism is not just a part of who you are. It is not something you should share with others. There is something wrong with autism. There is something wrong with you.
I won't make the same mistake. If Teddy won't be allowed to talk to his classmates, then I'll follow the lead of other bloggers who are giving Teddy the opportunity to speak to a much wider audience.
Listen to Teddy's words here. Then pass them on.
Happy Autism Awareness Month, Teddy. And thank you for sharing your story with us.
Edited to add: I've posted an update on Teddy here.