Overcoming My Silence by Learning S2C

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM

Your essay is about overcoming challenges. What challenge do you want to write about?
OVERCOMING MY SILENCE BY LEARNING S2C.

Is your topic something you are comfortable sharing with others?
I AM HAPPY TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE.

Summarize the chronological order of your story.
FIRST THE STORY OF MY LIFE BEFORE SPELLING. THEN MY JOURNEY TO FIND MY VOICE. END WITH HOW HAPPY I AM NOW THAT I CAN COMMUNICATE.

What is a top point you want to address?
NONSPEAKERS ARE INTELLIGENT EVEN IF THEY DON’T APPEAR SO ON THE OUTSIDE.

What is another point to address?
SOMETIMES THE NONCONVENTIONAL WAY IS THE RIGHT WAY. 

Ben started his essay after I prompted him to start a thesis statement. Since he just kept going, I figured I would just let him continue with the essay as he sees fit. (He clearly has an idea and a plan for this, so let’s just see where he takes it!)

EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCES SITUATIONS THAT TEST THEIR STRENGTH BUT THOSE WHO LIVE TO TELL THE TALE ARE USUALLY PEOPLE WHO EXPRESS THEMSELVES THROUGH SPEAKING. I HOWEVER AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE YET I LIVE TO TELL MY TALE JUST THROUGH DIFFERENT MEANS. YOU WILL LEARN MY MEANS BUT NOT UNTIL YOU LEARN WHAT TESTED MY STRENGTH. I AM A NONSPEAKING AUTISTIC AND THIS IS HOW I FOUND MY VOICE.

FROM AN EARLY AGE I KNEW I WAS DIFFERENT BUT ONLY BECAUSE A PRESSED LAB COAT TOLD MY PARENTS I WAS DIFFERENT. ALL I KNEW WAS IT FELT SO GOOD TO FLAP AND FLAP MY LITTLE ARMS LIKE A BABY BIRD.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMTHEN I DID NOTICE SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT, IN SOCIAL SETTINGS WITH OTHER CHILDREN. WHEN THEY RAN AROUND WITH EACH OTHER, WHEN THEY PLAYED WITH THEIR TOYS, WHEN THEY RECITED NURSERY RHYMES WITH GLEE, I NOTICED SOMETHING. I COULD NOT. WHEN I WANTED TO RUN WITH THEM, MY LEGS INSISTED ON STAYING PUT EXCEPT WHEN IT WAS NO LONGER TIME TO RUN. THEN I WOULD BOLT. WHEN I WANTED TO PLAY WITH TOYS, MY FINGERS FUMBLED AROUND THE SMALL PARTS. WHEN I WANTED TO RECITE NURSERY RHYMES, MY MIND KNEW THE WORDS BUT MY MOUTH SPOKE THE SAME SCRIPT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. 

NOTICE HOW I SAID I KNEW THE WORDS TO NURSERY RHYMES IN MY MIND? THE SAME CAN BE SAID FOR EVERYTHING FROM A SIMPLE NEED TO A THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE TO A QUESTION AT THE DINNER TABLE. ALL OF THESE WORDS SAT IN MY MIND COLLECTING DUST AND BECOMING IRRELEVANT. WHY COULDN’T I GET THEM OUT!? THEY WERE MY WORDS. I CONJURED THEM WITH MY OWN BRAINPOWER, SO WHY COULDN’T MY BRAINPOWER MY BODY LIKE IT WAS MEANT TO? THAT REALLY MADE NO SENSE TO ME UNTIL THE PHENOMENON WAS GIVEN A NAME, AUTISM. MY VARIETY OF AUTISM WAS GIVEN TWO INCORRECT LABELS, NONVERBAL AND LOW FUNCTIONING. NONVERBAL MEANS NO WORDS BUT I HAD PLENTY OF THOSE REMEMBER? COLLECTING DUST?

LOW FUNCTIONING IS JUST DOWNRIGHT INSULTING. SURE I FUNCTION DIFFERENTLY BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN MY FUNCTIONING IS OF LOW QUALITY. IT IS JUST DIFFERENT. IN MY COMMUNITY WE REFER TO THOSE AUTISTICS LIKE ME AS NONSPEAKERS AS THAT IS WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO. THE BIGGEST AND MOST PROMINENT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE LABELED HIGH FUNCTIONING VERSUS THOSE LABELED LOW FUNCTIONING IS THE PRODUCTION OF RELIABLE AND PURPOSEFUL SPEECH. MORE THAN THAT IT IS THE INABILITY TO CONTROL MOTOR FUNCTIONS LIKE NEUROTYPICAL PEOPLE DO.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMSO THAT MEANS I AM VIRTUALLY A HUMAN AT THE WHIM OF ROGUE SYNAPSES. AND IT LOOKS CRAZY AND PRIMAL, I’LL ADMIT THAT. BUT BECAUSE OF THAT MY EDUCATION WAS STRIPPED OF ANYTHING OF VALUE OR WORTH.

SO IT WAS A CHALLENGE TO PLAY, IT WAS A CHALLENGE TO COMMUNICATE AND NOW IT WAS A CHALLENGE TO LEARN. THAT’S A LOT TO OVERCOME. ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY AND NEITHER WAS I. WE TRIED IN VAIN TO EXPEDITE THE PROCESS BUT TO NO AVAIL. AS FAR AS WE KNEW I WAS A GENIE TRAPPED IN A MINDLESS BOTTLE. UNTIL ONE DAY THE GENIE WAS GIVEN THE ODD CHANCE TO BE GRANTED A WISH FOR HIMSELF. IT WAS A WISH FOR A VOICE. BUT SINCE GENIES ALWAYS COME WITH A CATCH EVEN WHEN THE WISH IS FOR HIM A VOICE IS NOT EXACTLY WHAT I GOT. I GOT SOMETHING BETTER. 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMIN A SMALL TOWN IN VIRGINIA I MET WITH A GROUP OF SMALL WOMEN WHO TEACH SOMETHING CALLED SPELLING TO COMMUNICATE. IT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE, POINTING TO LETTERS ON A LETTERBOARD TO SPELL WORDS. A TRAINED COMMUNICATION PARTNER IS REQUIRED TO ACHIEVE OPEN COMMUNICATION BUT THAT IS NOT ACHIEVED RIGHT AWAY NOR IS IT THE ONLY GOAL. THERE IS ALSO AN EDUCATIONAL ASPECT TO IT TO MAKE UP FOR THE FAILURE THAT IS PUBLIC SPECIAL EDUCATION OR JUST SPECIAL ED IN GENERAL.

THE PROCESS STARTS SLOW AND EASY. THE MORE PROGRESS ONE MAKES THE MORE CHALLENGING THE THE QUESTIONS GET UNTIL ONE HAS NATURALLY GAINED THE ABILITY TO CONTROL HIS ARM TO SPELL HIS THOUGHTS. 

OVER SEVERAL YEARS I ACHIEVED THIS LEVEL OF FLUENCY BUT IT WAS NO EASY FEAT. IT CAME WITH LOTS OF SCREAMING, TEARS, AND HEADACHES FOR ALL OF US BUT BOY DID I DO IT. I MEAN I HAD TO DO IT, IT WAS MY VOICE. FINALLY, THOSE WORDS WERE DUSTED AND POLISHED AND READY FOR THEIR DEBUT. IT OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF MY AUTISM THAT MADE THIS ESSAY POSSIBLE. THE ESSAY THAT SEEMS LIKE I WAS MEANT TO WRITE. 

YOU ASKED FOR A CHALLENGE THAT WAS CONQUERED BUT I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING BETTER. MY CHALLENGE WALKS BESIDE ME NOW RATHER THAN IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND ME AND I HAVE EMBRACED IT. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL EMBRACE IT ALL. THE END.

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMBen is a 19 year old young man with autism.  He found his voice when he learned to communicate using a letter board. This is his first published work. He hopes his words will bring hope to others who have difficulties speaking, and that he will be able to mentor younger people  with autism.  In his spare time, Ben enjoys time with family and exploring the outdoors.

 

Meghann Parkinson is the sole member/owner of Nonspeaking Communication LLC in Portland, OR. She has been practicing S2C for seven years and was working alongside Elizabeth Vosseller at Growing Kids Therapy Center in Virginia until 2021. During those years at GKTC, Meghann led several groups, virtual and in-person; she went to several cities nationally and internationally for workshops and outreach. Meghann learned her love for the Nonspeaking Community was strong at GKTC, and was ready to “spread her wings” to the beautiful state of Oregon to help others communicate. Meghann has a real passion for celebrating and teaching others about Neurodiversity, the Nonspeaking Community, and S2C – and having fun while doing it!

 

The mission of I-ASC is to advance communication access for nonspeaking individuals globally through trainingeducationadvocacy and research I-ASC supports all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with a focus on methods of spelling and typing. I-ASC currently offers Practitioner training in Spelling to Communicate (S2C)with the hope that other methods of AAC using spelling or typing will join our association

Posted By on Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 in Advocacy,Autism,Community,Education,Families,Nonspeakers,S2C,Spelling to Communicate

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