Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen with Autism Writes Guide on How To Treat People with Disabilities


Timothy Rohrer is an 18-year-old with a vision. He’s on a mission to bring understanding and enlightenment to the masses, one pamphlet at a time.

Timothy has Autism, and wants to help everyone understand what that means in terms of social interactions. So, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “How to be a Good Influence to People with Disabilities.”

The publication is full of helpful tips. In one section, he urges other to reach out to people with disabilities just as you would anyone else.

“Invite them to join your group of friends,” he suggests. “People with disabilities want to have fun too. Invite them to sit with you at lunch or snack time. Even invite them to play with you on the playground during recess.”

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“This guide is not only for autism; it’s for all the other disabilities, too,” Timothy told Asbury Park Press. “It’s unfair for people with Down syndrome or cerebral palsy to be left out. Teenagers need to get out of their comfort zone and understand what (those with disabilities) are going through.”

Life wasn’t always easy for the young man, who experienced firsthand what it’s like to be ignored.

“Growing up with autism, I know how hurtful it is when people don’t give me the attention I desire when it comes to friendship,” he told APP. “I dream of getting invited to the same parties and same lunch table as everyone else, but people were not letting me do that.”

His mother, Amy Rohrer, has been impressed with her son’s progress. At one time, she didn’t know what his future would look like.

“His language skills were extremely delayed,” she said. “His ability to have a conversation didn’t really happen until third or fourth grade. He’s come a long, long way.”

“He’s got the courage to speak up and get the word out. It’s awesome.”

The guide has been praised and used by Autism Speaks, Autism New Jersey, and the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education. Timothy also designed a website to go along with the flyer, and has been asked to start presenting, which he has agreed to.

“The guide is tremendous,” Tim’s former second-grade teacher, Joanne Schiumo, said. “All of this was going on inside him all along, but you didn’t realize it. It’s really touched my heart.”

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“I can still picture him sitting in his spot in our seating arrangement,” she continued. “He very rarely spoke. You didn’t know if you were connecting or not. To read the guide he’s put out, which is the epitome of everything I believe in, it’s absolutely amazing.”

“Approaching someone with a disability is more than just feeling sorry for them,” reads a quote by Timothy on his website. “It’s about giving them compassion, friendship, and love!”

“With all of the fish in the sea, I hope can soon create an environment in which people with disabilities are collaborated with neurotypical people in their circle of friends and the chance for them to accomplish their dreams.”

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