I don’t really know much about you, except you want to be elected for President of the United States and a lot of people seem to have opinions about this.
I’ve heard some people say you tell the truth.
Some say your delivery is off.
Others say you are a hate monger.
I don’t know what a monger is, and I’m not supposed to say the word hate, and I don’t know what they mean about delivery.
Do you deliver things? Like from Amazon or the brown UPS truck or the mail? Or maybe pizza?
I love pizza. We order it on Friday nights from this one place in our town and as soon as I get home from school I start asking about it over and over again.
I know you are something called Republican.
I know you are a self-made businessman. I think this means you are very smart when it comes to starting companies and making money.
You are on TV a lot. A few weeks ago I saw you, and I’m not sure what you were saying, but you made a funny face and you talked in a funny voice and you curled your hands up funny. Right after you did that they showed a picture of a man with a hand that was actually curled up for real and when they flashed back to you, it looked like you were copying him.
It made me feel weird inside, seeing you do that.
It made me wonder, Mr. Trump, what do you know about me?
Do you know I am eleven and that I was born on Mother’s Day in 2004?
Do you know that I feel safe when I ask the same questions and I hear the same answers a lot of times?
Do you know that I remember every single street I have driven on with my mom or dad? I know all the directions of how to get places, like my school or the mall or the movie theater.
Do you know that when I imagine the days of the week in my head, I picture brilliant explosions of color? If my mom says Jack, we’re going to the dentist on Monday, I see a flash of blue like a warm summer sky.
Do you know I live in New Hampshire? I think people like you—people in politics—call our state the swing state. Whenever I hear that, I picture our state swinging like I do on the playground and I laugh out loud.
I like New Hampshire, but I really, really want to go to California. I talk about it all the time, how when I’m a grown-up I’m going to California. I plan how long many miles it is and how many days I would need to drive. But unless my parents take me, I’ll probably never go.
Do you know what it means to have autism?
It means my disability is buried way deep inside my brain where no one can really see it.
It means my hands look okay, and I am not in a wheelchair, and I don’t use a cane or a dog to help me walk around. I can hear fine, although I don’t like loud noises and I cover my ears really tightly if I think the bells at church might ring or the buzzer might go off at my brother’s basketball game.
It means I search for my words like they’re buried inside a deep, scratchy haystack.
I for. Uh, I need. It is for the toothpaste gone.
It means sometimes I get very, very nervous. I can’t sleep and things like the wind chill factor and blue water in the toilet scare me. The doctor says I’m anxious, but my mother says it’s like having a snake for a pet.
It means people look at me with their different faces but I still can’t tell if they’re happy or mad or frustrated.
It means watching their eyeballs flicker back and forth gives me a headache, but all day long they tell me look in my eyes Jack look in my eyes look at me.
It means I may never drive, because even though I know exactly which streets to turn down, I won’t know what to do when I see a detour.
I may never live alone, or own a car, or pay a mortgage.
I may never be a husband, or a father.
Autism does not mean I am stupid. In fact, I am the opposite of stupid. I see the world for exactly what it is, and people for exactly who they are. This makes me very, very smart. It makes me brilliant like the shiniest star twinkling in the sky.
Maybe some people watched you on TV that night and they didn’t think it was such a big deal, the way you copied that man with the curled-up hand. Maybe they shrugged their shoulders and they made their eyebrows go up high and they said, hey, that’s just Trump being Trump, what can you do?
To me, it is a big deal, Mr. Trump.
Sometimes I forget I’m different. I forget for a little while, and then I remember.
I remember when I take my tiny white pill every night before bed so the slithering snake who whispers in my ear all day can rest, and I may sleep too.
I remember when I jump and grunt in the middle of math class, and when my house is so quiet on a Saturday afternoon because my brothers and sister all went to birthday parties and playdates and sleepovers.
I remember when I walk alone down the long hallway at school while the other kids swarm around me like bees out of a hive.
I remember all on my own, Mr. Trump. I don’t need someone like you to stand on a big shiny podium in a big fancy suit to remind me how different feels and looks and sounds and tastes.
One time I saw a girl in a water park who had no legs. She used her arms to climb up the stairs of the slide and then she plopped her body without the legs down at the top and slid all the way down as happy as the bright yellow sunshine.
When we got home I tried to show my mother the way that girl got up the slide with her arms and her hands and her body. And my mother said in a serious voice, “Jack, it’s not nice to imitate people.”
Then she said, “Try to understand what it’s like for her. Try to put yourself in her shoes.”
I stayed quiet like I always do when my mother talks serious-like, even though I really wanted to tell her that the girl had no shoes on because she had no feet.
Then I thought hard about having my legs gone from my body and I pictured how hard it would be to run through the grass and swim in the pool and stand in line for ice cream.
Can you put yourself in my shoes, Mr. Trump? Can you think hard about what it is like to need a pill before bed and have people ask you to look in their eyes all day long?
Can you close your eyes when someone says the word Thursday, and imagine a purple that’s as deep and dusky as fresh paint on a canvas?
I may have trouble finding the words, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. I don’t need a person to copy me, I need a person to stand up for me; to fight for the things in this world that will help me work in a restaurant, and drive car, and keep my pet snake safely tucked inside his cage.
I need someone who will help me see California.
I guess you don’t deliver mail, or packages, or long, slim envelopes that my father tosses onto the counter when he comes home from work. I guess you don’t deliver pizza either.
You deliver messages.
Maybe the next time you’re standing on a podium with a lot of cameras around you, you could try something else.
Speak for me.
Be my voice.
Tell our truth.