Fourth grader opens up to classmates about autism — and their responses will melt your heart
Footage of a fourth-grade student with autism addressing his classmates is going viral due to the heartwarming response of his peers.
Lisa Moe, a teacher at Eagle Canyon Elementary in Chino Hills, Calif., began recording when 11-year-old Rumari Zalez got up in front of his class and began a powerful impromptu dialogue about his autism on April 5.
"For a really long time, you guys had not known I had autism," the little boy bravely said.
Rumari went on to demonstrate how a gesture he sometimes performs that others may consider "weird" — namely, hitting his fist into his palm as the back of his hand rests on his face — is actually a ritual that he performs for comfort.
Rumari's classmates were clearly excited by his speech, and many of them had questions and thoughts for their friend. The 11-year-old buzzed around the room and accepted hugs and kind words from his peers.
"I think you're amazing, pal," one girl told him.
"This is not a question, but I think you're awesome just the way you are," added another.
"It doesn't matter what a person does or if it may look weird or if they might make weird noises sometimes," posited a third. "They're good just the way they are, like you, Rumari."
Moe told Good Morning America that she was absolutely floored by the special moment, which happened to coincide with the beginning of Autism Awareness Month.
"I wasn't imagining that I was going to capture what I captured," she said. "Seeing his confidence to stand up and do that...it has solidified my purpose of being a teacher and creating that environment to say unapologetically, 'Like it or not, this is me.'"