Insights from a Conversation with Divyesh Jain
Divyesh and I have been working closely for two years now, both in his work on I-ASC’s Nonspeaking Leadership Council and in the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network. Through these experiences, I was not at all surprised when Diyvesh was nominated as an Ambassador Spellebrity. He definitely inspires me as the S&A coordinator all the time. It was so nice to spend some one-on-one time with Divyesh where I could ask him more about his inspirations, priorities and motivation for doing so much work and advocacy within the nonspeaking community. Divyesh, thank you for your dedication and commitment!
In solidarity, Monica van Schaik
Divyesh, a young Indian man with glasses and a mustache, stands in front of a small tree with pink blooms. Divyesh is looking up, just past the camera.
Who inspires you? How would you want to inspire others?
I am inspired by my friends who struggle with dysregulated bodies but still bring their best to the table.
I will inspire others by sharing my journey.
You have been identified as an inspiration to the spellerverse. Describe a scene from our future world in which nonspeakers are fully recognized and included.
I will be doing all things neurotypicals can. It will be normal to have a CRP with you. People will address me directly and wait for me to complete spelling.
What do you think is a remaining challenge for nonspeaking people and what is your suggestion for overcoming?
Our main challenge is to convince people outside of our circle about our intelligence. They still think of autism as an intellectual disability. We need to show them it is a motor deficit not a cognitive one.
Divyesh sits on a large rock surrounded by tall pine trees. He is wearing sunglasses and looks towards the camera.
What’s something you want someone to know about you?
I can read and understand everything you say. My body does not obey my mind.
This ties back to what you said about the biggest challenge facing nonspeaking people. It seems fitting to continue blasting this message here.
What is something most people don’t know about you? Perhaps this links to what you just shared but if something else pops into your head, I would love to hear it.
A lot of people think that I am not strong as I cannot hit a ball, but the problem is not the strength it is my body not complying.
I’m so happy to be interviewing you today. I’m wondering if you could interview anyone, who would you want to interview?
I want to interview EV.
Why would you want to interview EV?
I want to ask her how did she make sense of autism being a motor deficit and not an intellectual one?
That is such a great question! I would love to see and learn from an interview you do with EV. Let’s try to get that to happen!
Divyesh stands in front of a rocky descent, Mount Rushmore is visible at the top.
Divyesh, you are so active in your community at Invictus and you also offer so much of your time and energy in the NLC and the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network. Something many nonspeakers have been asking me, is how do I stay motivated to keep advocating. What would you say to these nonspeakers? What keeps you motivated to do this work?
If we can change one perception, it means one more ally.
So, is that the key to your dedication, focusing on the small triumphs?
It is important to change the world one step at a time.
Well, these were all of the questions that I was hoping to ask you today. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the I-ASC community?
I want to say do not give up on us.
A close-up of Divyesh smiling and looking into the camera. He is wearing a red t-shirt, plastic frame glasses, and a yellow fabric necklace.
Divyesh is a nonspeaking individual from Tampa, FL who can spell to communicate. Right when he met Dana at her clinic he knew his life would never be the same. Divyesh is a senior at Invictus Academy. He is a fierce advocate of the right to communication. His goal is to make neurotypicals understand how we are on the inside. Divyesh is a member of the Nonspeaking Leadership Council (NLC) at I-ASC and he is an active member of the Spellers and Allies Advocacy Network. Divyesh wants to attend college and advocate for nonspeakers.