For 14 years, Gordy Baylinson didn’t speak or show signs of emotion, so everyone around him – including his parents – believed he didn’t understand them.
Then, last year, Gordy’s therapist began teaching the young man with autism spectrum disorder a new communication technique called the Rapid Prompting Method, the
Using this method, the 16-year-old from Potomac, Maryland has been able to show those around him that he has understood everything and has an incredibly rich inner life. Now, he’s hoping to use this new ability to communicate to help others understand and accept people with autism.
“He has been able to express himself in ways that are unbelievable,” Gordy’s father, Evan Baylinson, wrote
When Gordy learned that the local police department was holding an Autism Night Out, his therapist suggested he write the officer who organized the event a letter.
“I felt very strongly about writing you today, to give a little extra insight on the disconnected links that were supposed to make my brain and body work together in harmony,” he
“My brain, which is much like yours, knows what it wants and how to make that clear,” he continued. “My body, which is much like a drunken, almost six foot toddler, resists.”
“This letter is not a cry for pity, pity is not what I’m looking for. I love myself just the way I am, drunken toddler body and all. This letter is, however, a cry for attention, recognition and acceptance.”
Gordy’s letter reached officer Laura Reyes, who started an autism outreach program that trains officers in her department on how to approach and interact with individuals with autism. Reyes was so impressed by Gordy’s letter that she asked him to attend her next training session in December.
“I always share with the officers I teach to ‘never underestimate’ a person with Autism,” she wrote in a
response to Gordy and his parents
. “I also teach them to not associate non-verbal with a lack of intelligence. I continuously stress those two thoughts to my officers. Gordy will help to reinforce this idea yet again.”
Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post / Getty
In an interview with
, Gordy explained that he wanted to write the letter because he’s heard “too many tragic stories of the mistreatment and mishandling of autistics due to lack of knowledge.”
“It breaks my heart because I know no one is truly at fault,” he continued.
He also took the opportunity to thank Meghann Parkinson, his therapist who introduced him to the communication method. “Thank you for seeing my potential,” he wrote, “and helping my words, my story, and my manly voice get out there.”
Gordy’s parents are profoundly thankful too. Now that they know their son understands when he’s being spoken to, they’ve been reading him
, following the presidential campaign with him and encouraging his dream of one day becoming a researcher for
“The sky’s the limit for him now. I believe he can do whatever he wants,” Evan said.