Being Held To A Higher Standard

 By Gregory Tino

It took me 25 years to find a way to communicate. It then took me another year to become fluent with my mother. Why does it take 5 minutes for a critic to decide that I am not capable of communicating my thoughts?

Image description:  Gregory Tino spelling out his thoughts on a letterboard that is held by another person

For some unfathomable reason, spellers like myself are held to a higher standard than everyone else. Spelling on a letterboard is hard work for our apraxic, disobedient bodies. I need constant reminders to point accurately. I am able to spell for quite some time, but if I become fatigued, my accuracy with my pointing goes down. I feel like that is probably true of most anyone, autistic or not, but if WE mis-poke or make a mistake, people begin to question our authorship. YOU are allowed to make mistakes, but WE aren’t.

Tell me what is fair about that?

Some people even think we shouldn’t be able to use word prediction on the keyboard because it may influence what we want to say. But everyone else is able to use it to make typing easier.

Seem fair to you?

Image description:  Man looking through a magnifying glass with his eye appearing enlarged by the glass

Being held to a higher standard is like being under a microscope at all times, and I can tell you it stinks. I hate feeling like I constantly have to prove myself. YOU are able to get up and give a presentation in front of an audience without others whispering “so you think he really wrote that?” or “but how can someone who looks like that be able to feel and think that way?” Some of us feel pressure to be able to learn the keyboard so people are more likely to believe it is really our thoughts. The keyboard is HARD WORK! For some of us it is not even an option, and never will be, because of our apraxia.

So should we never listen to them?

Each autistic has a voice regardless of how they get their message out there. Going forward, here is what you can do.

Presume competence! 

Image description:  Blocks spelling out the words “Learn” and “Listen” simultaneously.

Believe what you are seeing. I promise, autistics won’t judge you for those shoes you are wearing or what you believe in. We have more important issues we are dealing with on a daily basis. So don’t judge us by our apraxic outsides. Our bodies do not obey our minds. Holding us to a higher standard makes us feel judged, criticized, and not believed. I am not immune to criticism, and honestly it does harm to me and my friends.


Just listen to the message we are delivering. We need to stop discriminating against people like myself and my nonspeaking friends. Check out our Spellers & Allies webpage. Follow us on social media.
I guarantee our message will be a good one!

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Image description:  Gregory Tino wearing a plaid shirt is smiling, and the corner of a letterboard is visible lying on the table next to his arm.

Gregory Tino is a nonspeaking autistic who has been spelling on a letterboard to communicate since 2017. He is an advocate for other nonspeakers, presents at conferences, and his goal is to educate people on the incredible capabilities of people with autism. He has written four books, The Land Called Boring , The Autistic Mind Finally SpeaksThe Autistic Boy In The Unruly Body , and Santa’s Gift . He also has written the narrative for multiple videos on his YouTube channel which is entitled Gregory C Tino. He is a proud member of the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network. In his free time he enjoys writing for his blog The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks on WordPress, spending time with family, and riding his bike.










Posted By on Monday, December 19th, 2022 in Advocacy,Motor

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