Anna Napolitano, Nonspeaking Leadership Council, Advocate – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I am honored to share my story with the world. You stay tuned to have your mind changed about nonspeaking people. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. Really the only thing you need to do is abandon the notion that people who can’t speak lack intelligence. I lived the first fourteen years of my life being treated like I was stupid, feeling worthless. I was drilled in discrete trials until I went crazy. That was the worst experience to have as a young child. Really got frustrating that I had no way to tell anyone what I knew. Being trapped in a body that felt disconnected from my brain made it impossible to share my thoughts. Meaningful communication was out of reach. Having no one who helped me learn anything interesting caused me to act out.
Fortunately, my mom made a life changing decision to seek out help outside the conventional treatment for Nonspeaking autistics. I am grateful that there were options available to me. Good options like RPM and S2C. Really the important thing was that the providers presumed that I was competent, and they engaged my mind while teaching my body to point to letters. Good thing they did before I completely gave up on having the life I dreamed of. Today I am preparing to graduate high school and go to college. That is my dream coming true. Really think you should understand that this is possible for all nonspeakers. You owe it to them to help them achieve their dreams, too. Realize that they want people to believe in them. Good understanding of our brain-body disconnects leads to improved quality of life for us and our families. I hope to give hope to my fellow nonspeakers that you should pursue your dreams. We are working hard to make them a reality.