I had the honor to be a part of my friends’ wedding last month. Faith, love and joy filled hearts and floated on the crisp mountain air as Kate and Chad came together as one. I served as a bridesman to Kate and she asked me to write a speech explaining my autism for those guests not familiar with it. My mom read it for me right before the ceremony. It was wonderful sharing my experience of autism with the people at the wedding. My message of inclusion and acceptance was well received and followed-up on by all the guests. My experience of the wedding felt so good because my body mostly cooperated that day and I was able to participate for once as a regular guy. This meant sitting through speeches, posing for lots of pictures, walking down the aisle without stepping on the Maid of Honor, Julie Sando and dancing with the wedding guests. It was also incredible to be with Kate and Chad on their special day.
I am including my speech from the wedding below–and some additional pictures!
I hope you enjoy it. Best Wishes, Ian
Good Afternoon! I want to welcome you all to the wedding of Kate and Chad. I am overjoyed to be celebrating their union. I am also honored to stand up for Kate as a friend and brides-man. Kate asked me to talk to you about my autism, so that those of you unfamiliar may know what to expect from a guy like me, as well as fellow guests on the spectrum.
My friend Elliot (also an awesome brides-man) and I, are mostly nonspeaking autistic guys who can now communicate by spelling on a letter board. However, our bodies don’t always do what we want them to do. For example, you might hear funny sounds and even words repeated over and over from our mouths. But this is not who we truly are. Our bodies also have difficulty staying still. We might run out of the room, tap on things, flap our hands and all sorts of goofy and embarrassing things. It is easy to assume that the child-like antics of our bodies must surely reflect a lower level of awareness, understanding and intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Please presume that we are smart and competent, as you look beyond the flailings and trappings of our bodies. You can talk to us like any other person. Feel free to ask us questions and we will answer you on our letter boards. Kate wanted me to share all of this with you, so that we could create an atmosphere of inclusion for all wedding guests, no matter their differences. I am so happy for Kate and Chad. I look forward to celebrating with you all on the dance floor.
All the best, Ian Aronow