Home > In Their Own Words > In Their Own Words – The Voice Unheard

In Their Own Words – The Voice Unheard

The Voice Unheard

I scream
I cry
I bang
You still don’t understand
The words won’t form for me to speak
But alas I have much to say
If only there was a way
A way for you to hear me
From behind the prison bars

The children on the streets stare
Like illuminating eyes in the night
I appear not to care
As they ponder over the sight
Of me walking on my toes
And screaming without no cause
To them I’m an alien
If only they could understand

There’s more than meets the eye with me
I’m not just some freak
If they could only see
I can’t help what I am or how I act
There’s much more under the surface
A truth waiting to be found
I’m not going to die
But that doesn’t make things alright

My mind, my body
Don’t work like they should
I’m trapped
A prisoner
No one’s knows how it happens
Why I can’t talk to you
It’s something in my brain
That went askew

There are others like me that can talk
But their case is different than mine
See we are all very different
Even with the same infected mind

In my case, I’m severe
I can’t talk
Only scream and yell
I bang walls and slam doors
And windows in cars
My senses aren’t like yours
My sense of feeling is off
I bang my head down on a table
Just to be sure it’s still there

Autism isn’t like cancer
There’s no cure
Or solution found
Only drugs and medication
To try and calm us down
But I am lucky to have a family
That loves me so much
They make sure I’m taken care of
And do everything they must

So next time you see me on the street
Or others of the same fate
Think of all we go through
Just to get through each day
Autism has a voice
If you take time to listen
You will hear

This “In Their Own Words” essay is by 15-year-old Emily Church. Emily’s 12-year-old brother has autism and she wrote this poem for a high school English class. “The Voice Unheard” is written from the point of view of her brother explaining his actions.

If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to editors@autismspeaks.org. Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

  1. Betty Patterson
    June 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    What an awesome poem. My grandson has autism. Thank you so much for sharing your poem.

  2. G-mags
    June 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I’m the grandma of a four year old autistic prince :-)

    your peom brought me to tears! for someone so young to have such understanding and not be afraid to express it, is truly a gift. Your brother is a very lucky young man to have such a caring and supportive sister and your parents must be very proud of you both.

    good luck in your future and give your wonderful brother a big hug from a grandma who loves another little boy just like your brother. there are many of us out there who do understand !

  3. Andrea Pianga
    June 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    This is so awesome. I have 2 Autistic Grandson’s, neither of them speak. They have a sister who will be 2 years old soon. She doesn’t speak yet, we are all holding on waiting to see as she is so different from her brothers. The oldest of the 2 grandson’s is a very calm child, and very smart. He is 6 years old now and can program the TV to watch it how he want’s it. We Love them all so much. My son and his wife are great patient loving parents. They are in special programs and the are all 3 the happiest children I’ve ever seen, never complaining about anything. This poem was so touching that I sent it on to my kids. Thank You for sharing it….Andrea

  4. bernadette alfaro
    June 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    i loved it! thank you!

  5. Lisa Gonzales
    June 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    very moving….

  6. June 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Once again, Autism Speaks isn’t using the words of people diagnosed with autism- only the family members around them!

    Emily Church has the right idea for her brother, but she has NO CLUE what it feels like to be trapped in that level of frustration- she knows her brother screams, but she does not know why, she only knows that medication helps, but that’s addressing the symptom, not the problem.

    I know why it happens. I CAN talk to you, but I still know WHY, more than any neurotypical ever will. But Autism Speaks wants to silence my kind. Heck, they want to ABORT my kind- they want a genetic test so that they can abort us in the womb so that we don’t mess up their precious lives.

    They describe us as Monsters, taking away their children- but we are their children, we are not monsters, and the only thing really taken away is your expectation of what normal looks like.

    I’ve escaped from the asylum the neurotypicals would put me in, and I’m now a parent of my own special needs little guy. Despite the language barrier (on both sides) I try my best to actually understand HIM. Perhaps Emily’s brother doesn’t need the meds- perhaps all he really needs is patience and a pair of Red Headphones.

    • Cheryl Moyer
      June 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm

      I don’t know your name, but I am sooo glad you can talk. How old are you? I’m sorry you have been around those you think non-nt’s are “monsters”.They are missing out. Don’t you agree? How cool for you and your child to share such a unique connection. I have so many questions for you but mostly, I have warm, patient and honorable
      feelings and thoughts for you. I hope you can take what you have learned through living it, remove the anger and teach it to me? and others as well? One more thing,
      “normal” is just a setting on my washing machine.

  7. Christine Plaatje
    June 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I was extremely moved by this well written poem! What insight and love from a sister who has lived with autism. I have son who is 17 and profound…thank you.

  8. Kelly Church
    June 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I am truly proud of our beautiful daughter. Emily is truly a blessing to both of her brothers and all of our family members.She is the sweetest young lady. We love you so much, baby girl. Kelly & Joel Church

  9. Cindy
    June 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    BEAUTIFUL!!!! I have 2 grandchildren that I am raising that have Autism. My youngest grandson is moderately severe. THank you for such a beautiful poem. It lets people understand what a child with Autism is going through.

  10. Dautey
    June 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    our daughter has autism and this is how she feels.thanks for such a moving poem

  11. Anita Irons Mallant
    June 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    As a mom of a child with Autism and other disabilitys and growing up myself as a child with Aspergers, I do know what it feels like when the noises get to loud! i dont put on Red Headphones to drown out life i work with life coping skills the same that mmy husband and i are teaching our special needs son! between us and his siblings and his team at school and his doctors Emily SPOT ON with what you wrote!! it describes it in FULL! I knew befor my son was born he was going to be a special needs baby, And i knew he was handpicked by GOD to be given to us as parents!! I and my Husband are Blessed with our son!! Emily you rock!!!!!!!! It is a Privelige to know a young lady like you!!!!!

  12. Joy Caldwell
    June 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Good job, Emily. You did a good job of expressing the pain, challenges, beauty and love all at the same time. Keep up the good work. I’m sure you got an “A++++”

  13. Melanie Gupta
    June 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    What a lovely poem! Emily, you are one of the most special, intelligent, and brave girls I’ve ever heard of, regardless of age!

  14. June 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Since undergraduate school and throughout my professional career, I worked with children with autism and so I very much appreciate your posting of this poem…thanks every so much!

  15. June 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Dear Emily,

    We are ALL so very proud of you for lending your voice to your brother. I would like permission to add your poem to our Washington Autism Advocacy Website. Please let me know. Also, if you’d like to serve as the An Autism Junior Advocate from your district to share your brother’s challenges with lawmakers in Washington state, please let us know.

    With warmest regards,
    Arzu Forough
    Autism Speaks Government Relations Liaison, Washington State

    • Emily Church
      June 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm

      Dear Arzu,

      I would gladly like to give you permission to use my poem on your website. Anything to help spread the word! I would also wouldn’t mind taking up your offer of serving as An Autism Junior Advocate. I will gladly do anything to help the cause! Thank you for your wonderful comment about my poem. I never believed writing it would touch this many people.

      Your truly,
      Emily Church

  16. Denise Canady
    June 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm


    Beautiful writing.
    Beautiful person inside Emily Church’s brother.

    Thank you, Emily!
    (Mother of an autistic boy and stepmom to a boy with tourette’s syndrome.)

  17. Debbie Crosby
    June 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    There is hope for children like my son Zack, and Emily’s brother, if Emily and her generation can grasp what she has so eloquently put to prose. Every day is a battle for our children. Most days feel like a battle WITH our children, too. Judgement has no place. Start assuming every tantrum you see is AUTISM, not bad parenting. In all likelihood, you’ll have improved your accuracy, and you will start to recognize what we parents of kids on the spectrum already know: there sure are a lot of kids with autism out there! Can we do something about it, before our kids behavior is commonplace? How sad will that day be!

  18. Gail Dresher
    June 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Dear Emily:

    You are wise beyond your years. You make me proud!!

  19. Dadvocate
    June 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I’d say that merits an A+ in English. Great job!

  20. June 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Amazing poem, amazing insight and very well written. I can only hope that one day my 2 year old will one day see his older Autistic brother in the same light.

  21. Angel
    June 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    My 10 yr old son has Autism, thank you for sharing. My son talks, but he also screams, cries, bangs, hits, throws, hides, etc. It’s a hard life for them, b/c a lot of their peers do not understand them. My son gets bullied a lot at school & at home, it breaks my heart b/c no one his age wants to be friends with him. His best friend is a 4 yr old little boy! Thanks again for sharing.

    • Emily Church
      June 5, 2010 at 7:11 pm

      Dear Angel,

      I understand what you mean. I feel that one of the most difficult things about living with someone with autism is not struggling with their disability, but having to watch as the world judgest them so harshly. I hope one day this will end. My warmest wishes go out to your son! He sounds like a great person and those other kids should be ashamed for not giving him a chance. Thank you so much for your comment!

      Your truly,
      Emily Church

  22. Danielle Aguanno
    June 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Great Job Emily!!

  23. June 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Amazing! your words match those of my daughters…a 15 year old girl with autism. You have incredible insight. Your brother must be proud of you

  24. June 4, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. mother of Asperger 7yr old
    June 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    What a beautiful poem and to only be 15yrs old. My how mature you are. That shows a lot about your family. There are not many teenagers that look at things the way you do. My hat is off to you. Your parents are very lucky to have a daughter and son like you both and they must be very proud of both of you. You have truely touched my heart. Thank you

  26. jackie salyer
    June 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Your brother is so blessed to have you in his life..you are a true blessing if only other’s could open up there eye’s,ear’s and heart’s to see what you and i see my son has autism and i would never change him he is a true gift from GOD ..i wish the world had more young kids like you to tell the world of the gift’s and love autism people have to give to the world..GOD bless you and your family you make the world a better place…..<3

  27. Audrey Castillo
    June 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

    You are a wise young lady. I’m sure you have made your family, teachers and even complete strangers like me very proud.

  28. Teresa Laureano
    June 5, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I’m the mother of a non-verbal autistic young man. Emily I cried reading your poem.

  29. Rashawndra Gibson
    June 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Thank you Emily! You paint such a wonderful picture of our daily world and for that I thank you.

  30. Adelle Nader
    June 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Emily – you made me cry. I am a MD teacher and I can just feel your poem in my heart! Thanks!!

  31. June 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm


    Thank you for sharing the importance of seeing your brother as a person first and for all that he has to offer. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and ideas to help make our communities more understanding and inclusive. Way to go!

    Jennifer Monteleone
    Founder, Inclusion Werks

  32. Jessie Atkins
    June 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Great job Emily! Gave me the goosebumps the first time I read it. So happy to see it’s on here and many others get a chance to read it. Your family is amazing and the road you travel with Jordan is not an easy one and yet you guys prevail.

  33. linda
    June 8, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    that was perfect:)

  34. Toni
    June 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

    That about sums it up Emily…you are a very special young lady <3…thank you…

  35. Rodney Starkey
    June 11, 2010 at 7:13 am

    WOW!! I am humbled that this wonderful poem captures the essence of livivg with the challenges of Autism !! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  36. John & Joan Church
    June 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    We are Emily Church’s grandparents and we want her to know how proud we are of her. She has always been a very special young lady and a great sister to all of her brothers. We love you Emily and continue to keep writing because you really have a gift.

  37. Sandra Kaye
    June 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    It’s like you stole the words straight from my heart! Thank you, dear girl, for writing this, you have no idea what an impact your words have. Be assured, your brother knows you love him. If he ever gets to read this, or you read it to him, I think with all my heart he would know. I just read it to my 4 yr. old who also has autism, and he actually sat & listened. THANK YOU! I loved this very much!!!!

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