A young man with autism, Sam Trapnell, who is 21, has found a calling: reading to children.
He is so skilled at reading to others that he has landed volunteer reading positions at Catoosa Country Library and Barnes & Noble in Georgia.
Sam is particularly interested in children’s books. He is so entertaining when he reads aloud to children, that when he starts to act out a book—everyone listens and is mesmerized, including parents of the children.
Sam is normally uncomfortable talking to people he doesn’t know well, and when asked a question he often relies on his mother to help him respond, even if he knows the answer. But when Sam reads to a live audience, his usual discomfort about being in a social situation disappears.
He is able to capture the character’s emotions in the book particularly well and throws in sound effects, such as knocking on a table, imitating animal noises, and fluctuating his voice for whatever the role calls for—a female teacher, rowdy children, etc.
When Sam first started out reading at the library, he had somewhat of a hard time connecting with the listeners, but as he has practiced he has developed his own way of bringing the stories to life.
If Sam is particularly familiar with the book, he can read the whole thing without looking once at the pages. Sam has also started to interact with the children, asking their names, and people who have seen Sam grow and mature through this, note that working with young children has really been a way for him to open up and to express himself in new ways.
People who work with Sam also strive to highlight the fact that employers should realize they shouldn’t turn away people just because they are autistic, for they can have really special talents like Sam does.
For more information on workforce initiatives, read here: http://www.icare4autism.