In their book, “Underestimated: An Autism Miracle,” J.B. Handley and his teenage son Jamison (Jamie) Handley, share the triumphant tale of a father and son’s life-changing journey of hope as they bravely navigate the road to unlocking Jamie from his self-described “prison of silence.”
In December of 2019, just weeks before the world locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, J.B. Handley, cofounder of Generation Rescue, discovered a new program he was told might help his son communicate.
While the rest of the world went into lockdown, Jamie, a nonspeaker, embarked on the journey of a lifetime, unlocking the words that had been trapped inside for 17 years, and revealing himself to be a remarkably wise, compassionate and brilliant young man.
As the story unfolds, Handley draws readers in to his inner dialogue, sharing all of the doubts and hopelessness he feels after nearly 16 years of failed “miracles” that never rescued Jamie. He doesn’t think this will help either.
Until it does.
Just when I thought this book couldn’t get better, I was amazed to see that Jamie authors the second part of the book himself. He takes readers into the mind of a nonspeaker, sharing his deepest thoughts. What he really wants more than anything, he writes, is for all nonspeakers to finally have what he has — a voice.
Jamie’s story defies the notion that nonspeakers are “mentally retarded” like many scientists believe, and begs the question: What if all nonspeakers are trapped like Jamie?
I devoured this book in one sitting, at times sobbing as the miracle unfolded in the pages I held in my hands. I didn’t want it to end. I was delighted when Handley asked me if I’d like to speak with Jamie. Of course I did!
Being able to communicate with Jamie was surreal. As I looked at this peaceful young man, I was astonished. He’d been trapped for 18 years. Yet he looked serene.
I asked Jamie what message he wanted us to share with the world, and told him that I would make sure his words were published verbatim. My eyes filled with tears as he spelled out his message:
“I think we all need to appreciate that we’ve underestimated everyone like me. We don’t act normal by your standards, but we are normal on the inside. I mean that the world treats us like we’re stupid, but we’re not.”
The book, which will be available March 23, can be pre-ordered here.