Well, this is Annette (Teo’s mom) here. I need to start out by saying that we had one of the most extraordinary days of our lives today, Teo and I. Teo was invited to speak via Skype, to about 120 6th graders at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Elementary School in Minnesota. My dear dear friend (and Luther College roommate, Anne) is a 6th grade teacher there and to her, we owe our heartfelt thanks for giving us this opportunity today. We also want to thank the over 100 6th grade students who were in attendance today…on their LAST day of school. What was most astonishing is that you could have heard a pin drop, as Teo spelled his comments. I have never met such a considerate, patient and supportive group of kids! Thank you all for sharing your last day of school with us and for all your encouragement and positive vibes!!! You changed our lives today!
One of Teo’s Missions is to educate society about “the truth about autism,” especially kids! If we can positively affect this young generation of kids, to be open and accepting of those who think, act, behave and express themselves differently than they do, we will take huge strides toward the dream of total acceptance, respect and inclusion of autistics in our society.
Below you’ll find Teo’s journal entry tonight, as we recapped the day’s events. This is printed with his permission, of course. Stay tuned for the transcription of today’s Q and A. I will post it by the end of the weekend. I need to transcribe 1.25 hours of videotape. I will also be uploading it to Teo’s YouTube channel for those of you who may want to watch the session unfold. We only filmed ourselves, not the kids on the screen, due to legal issues about posting on YouTube without consent. Enjoy!
6/2/16 Journal Entry Skype session at Zumbrota-Mazzepa Elementary School, MN
T: OK, so today goes down in history as one of the greatest days in my life. Speaking to 100 of my peers about being autistic was so freeing. They wanted to have an understanding of how I see the world but more importantly, who I am as a person. Even being asked about my favorite food or sport was exciting. Are we going to do this more?
Mom: Do you want to?
T: YES, as the answer resounds throughout the room! I think we can affect real change. I felt so empowered by their support. I wish everyone with autism could feel this way at least once in his or her lives. I have the feeling God wants us doing this, Mom.
Mom: Me, too. And if He does, it will happen. Doors will open and we’ll walk through!
T: I like that attitude.
Mom: What was your favorite part about talking to your peers today?
T: I got to be me without being judged or treated like a baby. Anne is sure our special friend to have made it happen today.
Mom: She sure is!
T: Can you believe what we’re doing, Mom?
Mom: Trick question! If someone would have told me a year ago we’d be doing this, I don’t know if I’d have believed them…I’ll be honest. You’ve gone from being unable to express yourself in a way we could understand to being a public speaker…in 12 months!
T: Well, it sort of is fantastic, isn’t it?! Good night, Mom.
Mom: Good night, Sweetie. I love you and am so proud of you!