The Silver Trumpet of Freedom

Sponsored Content

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Ralph James Savarese

Ralph James Savarese is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption (Other Press 2007) and co-editor of Papa PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy (Rutgers University Press 2010). Visit his website.


  1. Ralph -

    This is an amazing story, and your son os one amazing kiddo.

    Inclusion is, I feel, the biggest obstacle autists face. It’s not the fact they can’t communicate the way most of us do, or the fact that they move and think and react in a different way than most of us, it’s the looks of disapproval when they tic or the person who jokes about them like they aren’t there and the true peer group they don’t have.

    The mission statement of my agency (providing in home support) doesn’t say anything about teaching them to talk or to sort their colored bears (sigh) or to stop biting their fingers. It is simply this:

    “It is our fundamental belief that each individual’s contribution to their community is based on their unique journey. A journey developed through their own life experiences, and the process by which they developed the necessary skills to succeed.

    It’s not enough just to exist within the community, if one lives long enough it will happen naturally. It is important to be viewed as a respected community member, one who is held in regard by his or her neighbors. This quality of community status results, we feel, from a life long process of positive influences we can have on each other.

    This process begins at birth, and continues beyond death (we influence others who live beyond ourselves). Our part in this process of a child’s journey, is to strive in assisting each child realize his or her own ability to influence others, by assisting them in developing necessary skills to succeed in their respective community settings. By influencing this process early on, in cooperation with consumer families, state agencies, and the community at large, we envision a society in which all people are treated with respect and dignity, and all people are supported in providing their best in the service of each other.

    Everyone is a shareholder when it comes to each individual realizing his or her potential in the community.”

    I think your son’s community, and maybe the global community, is going to be awfully impressed with his accomplishments before he’s finished. he’s already accomplished much, and it doesn’t sound like he’s near done.

    Well done, all of you!

  2. Amazing story — very moving. Tyler Cowen wrote a wonderful book that might interest your son (if he hasn’t read it already). It’s been retitled “Infovore,” and it’s about how people on the autism spectrum (on which Tyler Cowen considers himself) are ideally suited for the information economy.

  3. Char Brandl says:

    Wow! This is so very exciting! Congratulations, DJ – and family!!!!

  4. I was just talking to my boyfriend (whom I met when we were both students at Oberlin) about language and the brain, and I mentioned nonspeaking autists using text-to-speech synthesizers, and that many were misdiagnosed with mental retardation. I hope that the increasing visibility of autism as a condition and autists as a demographic will eventually teach the neurotypical world a little more respect for neurodiversity and for individuality in general. I’m proud that my alma mater is helping by continuing its long tradition of inclusive education. I’m also glad to know that this remarkable young man will be enriching Oberlin’s community with his presence.

  5. This makes me incredibly happy and proud. Oberlin is a wonderful school that will support DJ in not only his academic pursuits but also his social pursuits. The students that go there are wonderfully inclusive and kind.

  6. As the mom of a junior at Oberlin and having met a good number of students on campus I am sure that DJ will be met with welcoming respect. As the sibling of two children suffering from a rare disease, my daughter was so proud of Oberlin.

    • Ralph Savarese says:

      Thank you, Randy. I really appreciate your remark. So far, Oberlin has been amazing even as my son struggles with anxiety.

  7. Ilene Rosen says:


    Congratulations to your son and your family. My son is a sophomore at Oberlin and would like to meet your son. Will you be at parents weekend on Nov 9th weekend. I will be there and Wondered if perhaps we could meet for coffee in town.

    • Ralph Savarese says:

      Ilene, I’m in Oberlin right now because I have a lecture I committed to months back and thus will miss parents weekend. But I’d love to meet you some time. Thanks for your comment.

  8. This article made me so happy! As a mother to a non-verbal 5 year old boy with ASD, I am always looking for signs of hope. I shared this article on social networks and just about everywhere. I keep returning to read it because it puts a big grin on my face every time! Thanks for posting.

  9. I am nonverbal autistic person and going to college also. Sort of. Not so successfully. Never lived in dorm, would not want to. Going to University of Washington in Seattle now, is this 4th attempt at college. UW is amazing college, professors are wonderful and helpful. Hopeful of actually being successful this time. Having good AAC and in-class aide makes it possible.


  1. [...] Ralph Savarese’s son, DJ, will be the first nonspeaking person with autism to live in college dorm… [...]

  2. My non-speaking autistic son will be Oberlin’s first…

    My non-speaking autistic son will be Oberlin’s first…

  3. [...] the autism spectrum and to avoid discrimination based on their disability. (See Ralph Savarese’s blog post on Oberlin’s acceptance of his son, DJ, possibly the first nonspeaking student with autism to [...]

  4. [...] of  Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption wrote a wonderful piece about a year ago, The Silver Trumpet of Freedom about his non-speaking, Autistic, son DJ who had just been accepted into Oberlin.  It’s a [...]

  5. [...] to my Positive Posting Promise, and share with you an article written by Ralph Saverese, entitled, The Silver Trumpet of Freedom. Mr. Saverese’s article is about hard work, faith, inclusive education, and is a shining [...]

Speak Your Mind