What Advocacy Means to a Late-in-Life Speller

Everyone who knew me thought I was stupid because I couldn’t speak. The only things that came out of my mouth were nonsense, so I understand why people thought that. The fact is I was treated like a 4-year-old and denied an education because I was assumed to have a cognitive and language impairment.  The truth is I’m really smart. I just needed an alternative form of communication besides speaking.

I found an alternative when I was 26 years old. I spell out my thoughts on a keyboard, and for the first time in my life, I can tell people what I know. It has completely changed my life for the better. I am starting college this Fall, and I hope to be an advocate for other nonspeakers to be taught to communicate by spelling.

Painting by Eric Armusik
Image description: Older man with a white beard and dressed in a white cloak slumped on a table, holding and staring at a full sand timer. 

The way I was underestimated was cruel and awful to endure. My wish is that no one else experiences what I did. To me, advocacy is a way to show how wrong everyone was about me and to not let it happen to anyone else. To be an advocate means I have to be visible and make sure we have opportunities to tell our stories. It is scary to put myself out there, but it is essential to change minds, open hearts, and heal from the past.

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Sam Becker is a 27-year-old nonspeaker from Bridgewater, New Jersey. Sam became a member of Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network in the Spring of 2022. He is building a community of spellers in New Jersey and plans to study math and music theory in college. 

One response to “What Advocacy Means to a Late-in-Life Speller”

  1. Susan says:

    Sam these words of what you felt and went through is emotional. I know twin boys that started using the S2C program and praying they also learn and grow and share their words with the world too. Thank you for this blog post.

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