“Hello, my name is Dillan Barmache.”
These were the opening lines of 14-year-old Dillan Barmache’s commencement message on graduation from middle school in 2014.
Unremarkable at first glance, except that Dillan has been non-verbal for most of his childhood, and many assumed he had nothing to say. Not his mother, Tami. She knew her autistic son had a voice and persevered until she found a way to help him find it. In the last few years, he has learned how to communicate using an iPad, and now the words won’t stop flowing. He has a lot to say. And it’s brilliant.
The response to his speech on the day was a standing ovation, and a video of it went viral. And rightly so – Dillan is an amazing, and very determined, young man. He comes from a great family, who I am happy to say I know. His mother’s determination and love have really inspired me. When it would have been easier to settle for conventional treatments and let Dillan fester in a system that didn’t work for him, she wouldn’t accept it. She followed her instincts. And now she knows what her son has to say. As a mother, I know that you wait to hear what your child can say when they find their voice. She waited a long time. But it was so worth it.
I’ve posted the transcript of his speech below, and here’s a link to the video.
But his story keeps getting better. He made a video with Apple to mark Autism Acceptance Month in 2016, which had millions of views on YouTube in only a few days. Here’s a link. And here’s a link to a longer version.
It’s Dillan’s dream to help other autistic kids find their voices – like he has done. For them to break out of the prison that they live in, that he lived in. I have a feeling he’s going to succeed.
“When I examine each day, it’s just incredible how a student, an autistic one, could ever feel a part of a class of future academics. Education is a better institution when all students have opportunity, plus a chance to take an idea and see the lessons within. With your mind, no one can place limits on where an idea can take you.
“Living without a voice creates almost no way to be heard, but there are people who refuse to think in a box. Open your mind in high school. You will learn to think about different ideas, and examine new findings. Always look inside other people’s experience in order to gain another perspective outside of books. Only then are we able to start opening our eyes to the amazing things around us.
“I so believe that there is so much more each one of us can do for other people, causes, and fields of study. I know too that the thought of high school is daunting, and also exciting. We will be challenged to think for ourselves as we live each day out. Part of education is showing what we have learned, so then tests measure our ability to learn, and are necessary.
“However, another measure of learning often seems based on insight and guidance. Insight is a guide that separates our knowledge into what we are taught and what we are capable of doing.
“Take a chance to experience your education in a meaningful way, and think outside the box, into yourselves. Insight always leads to truths that an individual either chooses to accept or not. Always consider looking to your own insight and seeking another viewpoint. We are the reality of our thinking life and are capable of so much if we just open our minds.”