By Pam Teel
Timothy Rohrer had a dream that he wanted to be like Martin Luther King, only to be the voice for people with disabilities. If you recall last January’s article in The Millstone Times, “Tim’s Story,” Tim discussed how hard it was for him, diagnosed with autism at age seven, to fit in socially with his peers, whether at school, at work, or during any social events.
Tim faced many life challenges growing up with autism, but the one that affected him the most was feeling socially isolated and different from neurotypical people. He had always dreamed of just being one of the guys, getting invited to the same parties as others, or sitting at the same lunch table with classmates, but sadly, on more occasions than not, he wasn’t included. Tim felt socially isolated, which made him feel even more lost and uncomfortable in situations. As he got older, he could hold his own academically but not socially.
On his own, Tim wrote up a pamphlet titled, “How to be a Good Influence to People with Disabilities.” It’s a guide with 10 simple pointers about how you can help and include people with disabilities. The pamphlet has become an international sensation. And has been used in numerous schools including a school in Latvia where it was translated into their language.
“Social isolation is negative,” Tim stated. “If it keeps occurring among people with disabilities’ it can put their life, their education, their safety and health, their employment, and their self-esteem at risk.”
Tim’s dream to be a voice for people with disabilities is coming true. At first, he had hoped he could reach people locally by talking in public schools and local municipalities about inclusion, but Tim had no idea that his work would reach out to people worldwide.
Since the first article in The Millstone Times paper, Tim’s life has taken off in many rewarding directions. He has been getting countless offers to speak in schools and at other events. He has already spoken at the Millstone and Up- per Freehold Schools. He was featured twice on the front page of the Asbury Park Press. After his article was seen in Gunther Publications, Ask the Doctor Magazine, Tim was asked to be the opening speaker for the Monmouth County Division of Mental Health. He brought tears to everyone’s eyes, with the Director commenting that he was going to change the world. At the conference a Monmouth County freeholder was so impressed with Tim that she has the County working with him to collaborate on making his pamphlet into a coloring book for kids to distribute at schools. She also arranged for Tim to meet in front of the Monmouth County Superintendants this past December. They loved him so much he was invited to speak at some of the schools. Later this month, he will speak to the NJ State Executive Superintendants for each New Jersey County.
Every Time Tim speaks, the audience is captivated. The best part to him, after giving his speeches, is his interac- tions with the students. They ask him a lot of questions and they learn a lot about what it feels like to be left out of something. Tim is truly making an impact everywhere he goes. He still feels like there are many kids out there facing social isolation and the more people he can reach and educate the better off those people with disabilities will be. In addition to speaking for the Division of Mental Health this past November, he was the Plenary speaker for the NJACP (NJ Association of Community Providers), making a great impact on all age groups with disabilities. There were adults with disabilities at the conference that came up to Tim and told him that he was their heart and soul and voice for them all. Tim is not only reaching the youth with his vision, but all ages and all communities and places all over the globe.
Tim was featured in a 3 page lay-out in a magazine called Special Sources in Nevada. His story has also been shared on Graham Media in Texas and on TV news sites in Florida, Michigan, and Virginia. He is also a guest writer for a local online newspaper. This past September, Tim received a Certificate of Commendation from the NJ State Senate and Assemblymen.
Just recently after meeting again with the President of the New Jersey Coalition of Inclusive Education, who saw to the publishing of Tim’s guide last year, it was decided that he would bring Tim on as a consultant and they would create lesson plans and presentations with Tim’s work that will eventually be placed in schools.
Tim’s life has completely changed. He has made new friends through the Crossroads Youth Group in Allentown where he was given the opportunity to speak in front of the other members there. From this, he gained a lot of confidence speaking in front of people, which led him to go on to speak at the local schools. Tim’s girlfriend Claudia, who also has autism, completely supports him. Like Tim, she went through the same isolation that he felt growing up. The two met at the Monmouth County Career Center where they attend classes. Tim also takes computer Graphics at Mercer County College and is working part time at the Shop Rite in East Windsor. We here at The Millstone Times have no doubt that Tim will change the world with his vision!
His Tim Rohrer- Tips4inclusion facebook page is followed by people as far as Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Tim has also created a website that has a wealth of resources about inclusion. https://tips4inclusion.wixsite.com/disabilityinclusion- you can contact Tim, read his past articles, read the guide that he wrote and more! Tim also started a new you tube channel and has video’s of his speeches posted called- Tips4inclusion.
Timothy’s hope for the year 2020- to be the decade that people with disabilities be included socially all over the world. Let’s help make that dream come true!
“Approaching someone with a disability is more than just feeling sorry for them. It’s about giving them compassion, friendship and love.” – Timothy Rohrer