HAZARD — A Perry County nonverbal student has dreams of becoming an author in the future. He hopes by becoming an author, it will give readers insight of what autism looks like through the perceptive of one who lives with it.
Kelby Johnson, 9, is a fourth grade student at Robinson Elementary. He became nonverbal when he was just 18 months old.
Johnson started using the DynaVox app on his tablet when he was in the third grade. The app allowed to him to type out what he had to say and an automated voice would speak the words he typed out.
This would allow him to gain his voice back and let him communicate his wants and needs with his family and friends.
Before the DynaVox, Johnson would communicate with pictures. His father, Neil Johnson, said while communicating with the pictures weren’t perfect, it was the best way to communicate with him.
When Johnson was 7 years old, he said he realized he had autism because he noticed he was different from the other kids in his class and putting that together, he realized he had autism.
When asked if he was afraid when he discovered he had autism, he responded by saying this, “I figured God made me just the way I’m supposed to be.”
“I want to inform people about what living with autism is like,” Johnson said about his dreams of becoming an author.
He hopes his unique perspective will help people understand that autistic people are often misunderstood and that they also have hopes and dreams like everyone else.
During a recent school assignment, Johnson made a PowerPoint presentation about autism.
“I felt empowered that I was able to make sure people know how autism affects me and others who live with it daily,” Johnson said of his presentation.
Some of Johnson’s hobbies include watching movies, his favorite movie being The Jungle Book, and riding with his dad on the weekends in their side by side.
His favorite subject in school is reading.
Johnson’s teacher aide, Amanda Terry, said Johnson was at the top of his class and has a grade point average of 4.0.
Terry has been Johnson’s teacher aide for six years.
“He’s my other boy,” said Terry.
Johnson hopes that people understand that autism kids/adults have hopes and dreams like everyone else and he feels his writings will give an unique perspective of what autism is like for those who live with it.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald and he can be reached at 606-629-3245.