A teenager whose life has been transformed by technology is the star of a new short film created by Apple to celebrate Autism Acceptance Day.
Sixteen-year-old Dillan Barmache can’t speak, but through the use of an ipad and some innovative apps he can now express his thoughts and perspectives on life, reports Mashable.
The film, called Dillan’s Voice tells the teenager’s story through his own words, typed out on an iPad then spoken via an augmented and alternative communication (AAC) app.
Dillan has been using an iPad as a communication tool for about three years – in fact, his use of the technology went viral in 2014, after he used it to deliver a moving middle school graduation speech.
Over the past three years, the technology has become an essential part of Dillan’s daily life – but before he got it he spent much of his younger years struggling to connect with people.
“So many people can’t understand I have a mind,” Dillan says in the film. “All they see is a person who is not in control.”
But Dillan told Mashable the use of his tablet and AAC apps has helped him both to ‘see’ his words and hold onto his thoughts:
At school, I now can have a conversation. I can share [answers to questions] with my classmates to amaze them that this totally awkward and sometimes strange guy is as smart as they are.
Dillan knows how he is perceived by people who don’t understand autism.
He told Mashable:
Attitudes last. The ones about a misunderstood and hard-to-explain condition have placed all autistic people in a hidden world – sometimes never to be heard from.
But with the help of his iPad, Dillan says he has been freed from the negative perceptions that have distorted people’s views of him: “The iPad allows me to be seen,” he puts it bluntly.
Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, also spoke to Mashable:
Accessibility is about empowering everyone to use our technology to be creative, productive and independent.
Dillan’s message is powerful, and we are grateful the iPad and apps are playing such an impactful role in his life.
And it really has changed Dillan’s life. At one point in the behind-the-scenes film Dillan’s Path he describes having autism as a ‘lonely existence’ like ‘being in hell’.
But not any more:
I get to have conversations, and have people dear to me see and hear the person I am. Having that makes anyone’s life less lonely, right?
What an incredible story.