“For a really long time, you guys have not known that I have autism.”
That’s what this fourth-grade student from Chino Valley, California, had to say to his classmates.
Eleven-year-old Rumari Zalez's viral speech on autism all started when he asked his teacher if he could say something to his classmates as they were working on projects for Autism Awareness Month in April.
“He was so excited,” his teacher Lisa Moe told InsideEdition.com. “He has a very good grasp on autism and how the spectrum works. He was talking about how it was a blessing. His mom tells him that he is a blessing every day.”
Rumari even went on to explain his self-stimulatory behavior, also known as stimming.
“This is something I like to do,” he said, going on to explain that it makes him feel good and other kids without autism might not understand the sensation.
“Throughout the year, the kids were like, 'What is he doing? What is that?'” Moe said. “He explained it, and in that moment, it was just simple. It was just, 'Oh OK, he likes it and that’s what he does.' No questions asked.”
Rumari ended the speech strong, and let others know to be kind to each other and to make everyone feel important.
He even took a moment to ask for questions, during which his classmates asked for “huggies,” which is Rumari’s word for a hug.
His parents, Olivia and Rudolpho Zalez, told InsideEdition.com they were blown away by their son’s speech.
“We were extremely impressed and just shocked,” Rudolpho said. “It’s difficult to stand up and just talk in front of your peers but especially about something like this, and for him to be so brave and just raise his hand and ask.”
His parents explained that Rumari hasn’t always been so confident about having autism.
“It’s not all fun speeches,” Rudolpho said. “There are time we have to persevere through the hard times, but I think we keep positive mindset.”
But they’ve taught him that like his favorite X-Men characters' mutations, Rumari’s autism is his superpower and that “it’s different, not less,” his dad added.
Aside from his superpower, Rumari is like any other 11-year-old boy.
“He’s an amazing kid with an amazing personality and probably one of the biggest hearts,” Rudolpho said. “He cares for everyone and is cautious for everyone’s feelings and emotions. We’re blessed.”