My older brother, Richie, has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This means, despite the fact that he is totally sweet, awesome, and hilarious, he struggles in certain areas.
- He has a hard time expressing himself (thoughts & feelings) verbally.
- He has a hard time understanding social cues and social communication. So he doesn’t *get* figures of speech or jokes sometimes. He has a hard time initiating conversations with others, despite the fact that he wants to talk with everybody!
- He also struggles with stereotyped interests or to put it in his words - “I can’t change my channels.” Some of his interests are air conditioners, the weather, calendars/dates, and recently…80s/90s-era boomboxes.
- He has savant abilities with memorizing and recalling telephone numbers, song numbers in hymnals, dates, and calendars. A cool party trick - if you ask him which day of the week a certain date fell on (past or in the future), he can tell you!
I posted this a few days ago:
Since this post, Richie has bought 2 Taylor Swift albums and joined her fan club. Last night, my brother came home from a ballgame & told my mom that he wanted to write Taylor Swift a letter. He sat down at the computer, turned on the CAPSLOCK (he has fine motor difficulties, as do a lot of people with autism & it is too difficult for him to worry about the shift key) and wrote the following letter. As far as I know, this is the FIRST letter he has ever written & I am amazed by it - made me laugh & cry at the same time!
We are mailing the letter to Taylor Swift & hope that she will see it someday, but I wanted to share with everybody because the letter is sweet and funny, but also gives an insight into the thought processes of someone with autism that I think is rarely seen.
The completely unedited letter (except I blocked out our address & other individual’s names/identifying info)
I AM RICHIE TRAVIS I LIVE INMURRAY KENTUCKY [ADDRESS].
I ENJOY YOUR COUNTRY MUSICSONGS YOU SING GOOD I GOT 2 CDS CALLED FEARLEE AND RED THEY HAVE GOOD SONGS ON THEM.
BUT I HAVESEEN YOURE NEW ALBUM THAT YOU WILL BE PUTTING OUT NAME OF IS IS CALLED SHAKE IT OFF.
I HAVE SEEN THAT VIDEO SHAKE IT OFF ON YOUTUBE.
I ENJOYED THAT ALBUM 80S STYLE MUSIC.
I SAW YOU WITH A BOOMBOX ON THAT ALBUM IENJOYED THAT BOOMBOX ONYOUR ALBUM.
AGAIN YOU SING GOOD I MIGHT TRY TO SEE YOU I CONCERT LIVE IT DEPENDS ON WHERE ITS AT.
IF YOU ARE EVER AT NASHVILLE I MIGHT TRY TO COME SEE YOU I CONCERT IF I CAN.
BUT ANYWHERE ELSE YOU ARE IN CONCERT I CANT MAKE ITBECAUSE ITS TO FAR AWAY I DONT LIKE LONGDRIVES THEY WEAR ME OUT.
BUT I TRY SEEING YOU IN NASHVILLE CONCERT IF YOU EVER PERFORM THERE IT ALSO DEPENDS ON MY SCHEDULE I STAY PRETTY BUSY ALSO.
I HAVE SEEN THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE THAT YOU ALL DID ON YOUTUBE
TO RAISE MONEY FOR ALS YOU ALL GOT WET THAT WAS PRETTY AWESOME VIDEO ON YOUTUBE ICEBUCKET CHALLENGE.
SO KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK TAYLOR.
NOW I WILL TELL ABOUT MY LIFE THAT I DO THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO YOU.
AGAIN I AM RICHIE TRAVIS I LIVE IN MURRAY KENTUCKY [ADDRESS].
I GRADUATED FROM MURRAY HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 2000.
I GO TO ALL THE HOME FOOTBALL GAMES SOCCER GAMES BASKETBALL GAMES SOFTBALL GAMES BASEBALL GAMES.
I NEVER GO TO ANYAWAY GAMES.
I AM THE NUMBER ONE MURRAY HIGH FAN.
I GO TO BETHEL CHURCH OF CHRIST IN MAYFIELDKENTUCKY.
I ALSO GO TO UNIVERSITY CHURCH OF CHRIST IN MURRAY KENTUCKY.
I ALSO GO TO CHURCH OF CHRIST FRIDAY NIGHT SINGINGS.
I GO TO 3 SINGINGS FIRST ONE IS CENTRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST IN PADUCAH KENTUCKY.
2ND SINGING AT GLENDALE ROAD CHURCH OF CHRIST IN MURRAY KENTUCKY ORSING AND REJOICE.
3RD SINGING POTTSVILLE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN MAYFIELD KENTUCKY I ENJOY GOING TO SINGINGS THEY ARE FUN.
I SING PRETTY GOOD BUT IM VOICE SEEMS WORN OUT FROM ALONG TIME AGO.
I USED TO SING AT CHURCH LOUD AND REALLY LOUD WHEN I WAS YOUNGER.
MY MOM WOULD HAVE TO GET ON TO ME FOR DOING THAT BECAUSE IT WOULD DISRUPT WORSHIP SERVICE AND 2ND IT WAS NOT GOOD ON MY THROAT SINGING SO LOUD.
I WISH I NEVER WAS SO LOUD THEN MY VOICE WOULD PROBABLY STILL BE STRONGER NOW.
BUT I STILL SOUND OKAY.
ANOTHER THING THAT MIGHT INTEREST I CALL MYSELF THE CALENDAR MAN.
I CAN REMEMBER DATES FROM WHEN I WAS BORN JANUARY12 1981. THAT WAS A MONDAY WHEN I WAS BORN.
YOU WERE BORN DECEMBER13 1989.
YOU WERE BORN ON A WEDNESDAY OF THAT YEAR 1989.
YOU PROBABLY WOULD NOT REMEMBER THE EXACT DATE WHEN YOU WERE BORN LIKE I DO.
NEXT YEAR I WILL BE 34 YEARS OLD JANUARY12 2015.
YOU WILL BE 25 YEARS OLD DECEMBER 13 2014 THIS YEAR.
SO YOU HAVE A HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY IF I DONT HEAR FROM YOU.
ALSO THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE YOU ALL DID.
IT REMINDS ME OF A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE WHO LIVES IN MURRAY KENTUCKY HE HAS ALS HE WILLBE 52 YEARS OLD SEPTEMBER 4 2014 THURSDAY OF THIS YEAR. HE HAS HAD ALS FOR A YEAR AND 1 MONTH.
HIS NAME IS [XX]. HE WAS A GOOD SONG LEADER AND [X] CHURCH OF CHRIST IN MURRAY KENTUCKY.
I HATE THAT HE HAD ALS HE CANT USE HIS HANDS LEGS MUSCLES ANYMORE.
HE CANT LEAD SINGING AT [X] CHURCH OF CHRIST ANY MORE I HATE IT IT MAKES ME SAD.
HE HAS TO WEAR A OXYGEN MASK 24 HOURS A DAY.
THAT IS TO HELP HIM BREATH SO HE IS NOT DOING VERY GOOD IT MAKES ME SAD SO KEEP [XX] IN YOUR PRAYERS FOR ME BECAUSE HE IS A GREAT FRIEND.
FAR AS CHURCH SONGS I LIKE GOD ON THE MOUNTAIN AND THE LONGER I SERVEHIM THE SWEETER HE GROWS THOSE ARE PRETTY SONGS THAT XX USED TO LEAD ALL THE TIME BEFORE HE GOT ALS AND COULD NOT LEAD SINGING.
ALSO ON YOUR ALBUM SHAKE IT OFF TAYLOR SWIFT THAT BOOMBOX YOU HAD ON THERE.
I HAVE ME A 1980S BOOMBOX LIKE YOU HAD ON THAT VIDEO I LIKE TO LISTEN TO FROGGY 103.7FM. ON IT THATS A CIUNTRY MUSIC RADIO STATION.
I ENJOY MY BIG BOOMBOX LIKE YOU HAD ON YOUR VIDEO SHAKE IT OFF.
I ORDERED MY BOOMBOX OFF EBAY MAY 2 THIS YEAR.
I GOT MY BOOMBOX IN THE MAIL MAY 9 2014 THIS YEAR.
I HAVE HAD MY BOOMBOX NOW ABOUT 4 MONTHS SEPTEMBER 9 2014 THIS YEAR.
NEXT MAY 9 2015 IT WILL BE ONEWHOLE YEAR TIME FLIES BY.
SO I ENJOY MY 1980S BIG BOOMBOX LIKE YOU HAD ON YOUR VIDEO SHAKE IT OFF.
I LISTEN IT EVERYDAY IT KEEPS THE PARTY GOING.
SO GOOD LUCK ON RELEASING YOUR ALBUM ON 0CTOBER 27 2014 THIS YEAR OF COURSE THAT IS A MONDAY WHEN YOU RELEASE YOUR NEW ALBUM. I LOOK FORWARD TO BUYING IT WHEN IT COMES OUT.
ALSO GOOD LUCK SEPTEMBER 19 FRIDAY 2014 AT YOUR CONCERT IN LAS VEGAS. I WONT BE THERE BECAUSE TO LONG WAY FOR ME IN MURRAY KENTUCKY.
IF YOU PERFORM IN NASHVILLE I TRY TO COME SEE YOU LIVE UP THERE IF MY SCHEDULE GOES OUT OKAY YOU SING GOOD I LIKE TO HEAR YOU IN CONCERT WHEN I CAN.
SO IN CLOSING COMMENTS YOU HAVE LEARNED A WHOLE LOT ABOUT ME.
AGAIN WRITE ME BACK WHEN YOU CAN IM NOT IN NO HURRY IM ALWAYS PATIENT I KNOW YOURE REALLY BUSYTAKE YOUR TIME WRITE WHENYOU CAN.
AGAIN TAYLOR SWIFT MY NAME IS RICHIE TRAVIS [ADDRESS] . BIRTHDATEJANUARY 12 1981.
I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM WHO WHEN YOU CAN WRITE ME BACK.
I HOPE YOU LIKE THE PICTURE PHOTO OF ME ITS A GOOD PICTURE.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK IN ALL YOU DO IN YOUR NEW ALBUM MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU
THIS IS YOUR FANCLUB FRIEND RICHIE TRAVIS SPEAKING.
And…he hates having his picture taken, but we managed to get this one, just for Taylor!
My brother gave a very good example of how he is going to “shake shake shake” it off when somebody is mean to him, so thank you Taylor Swift, for somehow teaching this social skill in your song! You now have fans in the entire Travis family :)