1. Autism will make it seem like I don’t want to learn this, but I do! There were many times I would say “no” when I was asked to practice. That was a motor loop that I had no control over. Don’t listen to my mouth!!
2. At first you will get frustrated and so will your CP. Talking with your finger is painstakingly slow. Time will improve everything. It took me a year to become fluent with my mom. I am glad to say we pushed through all of the tough stuff.
3. Some days my body cooperates, and some days it doesn’t…..even now. Tomorrow is going to be better.
4. Even if you work on it for ten minutes a day, it is better than nothing. You don’t even have to do it daily. In the beginning my mom and I only practiced twice a week.
5. Take a break if you need it. Talking with your finger is tiring!
6. Work in an area with a comfortable chair and good lighting. There should be no distractions like the phone or other noises.
7. Start with lessons that are interesting to both the speller and the CP. You are likely to remain focused that way.
8. Be proactive. Have your area clear and ready. The worst is when I am on a roll and my CP has to interrupt me to get a pen. Then it is difficult to get back to where I was.
9. This one is for the CP’s – once the speller is fluent, don’t bombard them all day with questions. My mom did that in the beginning and I understand why. You want to hear what we have to say because you finally can. Talking with your finger takes a lot of energy. It is a bit overwhelming to do it all day. My mom asks if I want to check in about anything each night before I go to bed. Talking about subjects I choose myself encourages me to talk.
10. Autism and apraxia will always be there. This doesn’t change you. It enables people to get to know you. Use it to advocate for the others who are still silent. Write a blog to teach others about autism. Here is the link to my blog The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks. Write a book or poetry. I wrote a book on Amazon also called The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks. The world is yours. You can do anything autism and you want to do, which includes saying what you want to wear, eat or do! I am always glad to tell my parents that I want to have pizza. Life is so much better when you are given a good slice of pizza!
I am a 27 year old non-speaking man with autism who was able to find my voice in 2017 using the Spelling To Communicate method. At that time I was viewed as having the intellect of a toddler, but I proved them wrong on that dreary May day. Now my goal is to help others to be able to find their own voice and live a better life.