Teen Who Has Autism Shares How An iPad Let His Voice Be Heard

"Not being able to speak is not the same as not having something to say."

One teen with autism is showing the effect technology has on his life in a new ad campaign. 

Tech giant Apple recently released two short films which give a glimpse into the life of 16-year-old Dillan Barmache, who has autism and is non-verbal as part of a new campaign for April's Autism Awareness Month.

The videos, entitled "Dillan's Voice" and "Dillan's Path," document how the use of an iPad and its special apps helped his thoughts get heard. 


"All my life I wanted so badly to connect with people, but they couldn't understand because I had no way to communicate," Barmache says in the video via a voiceover. Later adding, "having a voice has changed everything in my life."

Without a way to communicate with others, Barmache mentioned in the video that people used to have difficulty seeing the real him. 

"So many people can't understand that I have a mind," he said. "All they can see is a person who is not in control."

But after using augmented and alternative communication apps on his iPad, he was able type out his thoughts, allowing him to better articulate his feelings to others and have conversations with those he cares about. The teen made headlines back in 2014 when he delivered a middle school graduation speech with the help of his iPad. 

"When he began typing, he said it was like being freed," Deborah Spengler, the teen's therapist and communication partner, said in "Dillan's Path." 

Ultimately, the films show that with the help of tools like AAC apps, we're taking another step toward inclusivity -- a much needed one. After all, as Barmache's mother Tami points out, "everyone has to have a voice." 

"Not being able to speak is not the same as not having something to say," she said. 

In addition to the short films, Apple has also collected various apps, books and podcasts for people with autism, or those who want to learn more about the subject in celebration of the month.