Imagine being a nonspeaking autistic, trapped in an unreliable body, unable to talk to anyone, or even show you understand. Yet, you are intelligent, engaging, and desperately want to be known and to connect with others. Not only are those fundamental human needs elusive to you, you are also misunderstood and mistreated constantly, creating deep unresolved trauma. This is the typical life of a person with nonspeaking autism.
Research into the field of nonspeaking autism has been sparse and full of inaccurate data, and incorrect theories, and inadequate or harmful treatments. Funding for research for this minority group has been non-existent. That is until recently, thanks to the work of Elizabeth Vosseller and some accomplished researchers, and leaders she has gathered to change the future for the nonspeaking community.
Elizabeth Vosseller (fondly referred to as EV) is the founder of Spelling to Communicate (S2C) which is a teaching method for individuals who have motor challenges, and it teaches the purposeful motor skills necessary to point to letters to spell as an alternative means of communication. This effective, reliable method is available through over 400 trained S2C practitioners around the world.
I am an S2C Practitioner in Melbourne, Australia, and a mother to a minimally speaking 11 year old autistic son, Jack. I travelled to Herndon, Virginia to attend Motormorphosis and to visit Growing Kids Therapy Centre to observe the team of experienced practitioners working with EV. This trip has been a transformational experience for me as a mum, practitioner, and as part of this community that I am proud to belong to. Thanks to local and well renowned speaking and nonspeaking experts, including researchers, lawmakers, AI specialists, writers, and activists, the knowledge and experiences I take from my time in Virginia, will undoubtedly shape the future spellers in Melbourne Australia, as well as ignite my dream to form a local community for nonspeakers. This community I believe will mirror the community in Virginia and beyond, a neurodiverse community which makes it possible for everyone to feel heard, to feel safe, and to be known for who they are. It is also a community providing best practice tools and resources to support a path of healing from the mistreatment, ableism, incorrect representation for this very insightful and resilient group of people and their families.
I wish to thank everyone at the International Association for Spelling as Communication (I-ASC) and Growing Kids Therapy Centre for your hard work and dedication, and for welcoming me into the fold. I hope this blog post reaches many and starts to open the door for many more to understand about the motor and movement differences for people with nonspeaking autism. Please get in contact with I-ASC if you can not access the local S2C Practitioner in your area.
“Meaningful inclusion can not happen without communication.” (Unknown)
Rachael is a mum to 13yo Sam and 11yo Jack who is autistic and minimally speaking. Rachael is a trained primary school teacher, and works as an S2C practitioner based in Melbourne, Australia. Her business name is Spell to Connect Pty Ltd. Rachael is married to Damon and is passionate about coffee, friends, travel and reading. She loves that she gets to make a difference for nonspeaking individuals by providing a means to open communication, and raising awareness around motor and sensory differences.