Weston Teen Surprises Autistic Child With An iPad

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Christian Retana-Portillo hugs Tyler Dyment after receiving an iPad from him for Christmas.
Christian Retana-Portillo hugs Tyler Dyment after receiving an iPad from him for Christmas. Photo Credit: Anthony Buzzeo

STAMFORD, Conn. — Christian Retana-Portillo, an autistic student in the pre-school program at Westover Magnet School in Stamford, was laughing and clapping after receiving an iPad from 14-year-old Tyler Dyment.

“Again, again,” Christian shouted and clapped as he finished a game.

Tyler, a student at Weston High School, met Christian about two-weeks ago while visiting the class and saw how much he loved it [an iPad] and learned from it, that he wanted to get Christian one for him to use at home.

“I feel great, it’s really comforting to know he will have it over the break,” Tyler said.

Janie Burke, Tyler’s mother and Christian’s teacher, described her student as basically non-verbal, and said having an iPad gives him a way of communicating with and opens up the world to them.

“Just because they can’t speak, doesn’t mean they have nothing to say,” she said. There are several iPads in the classroom, but the children are not allowed to take them home.

While Tyler was the driving force behind getting the iPad and carrying case he did say he couldn’t have done it without support from his principal, Lisa Wolak, who used high school funds to purchase the gifts.

Tyler and his classmates will be re-paying the school after winter break, with a jar set up for people to put in change.

Burke set up a surprise gift-giving time for Christian’s mother, who began crying tears of joy and thanking Tyler just for loving her son.

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