Words With Friends

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

As a young child, I knew that I was different. But I didn’t understand why or how. What I did see, too clearly, was that other kids didn’t want to have anything to do with me. And that crushed me. I had my loving sisters, but I still felt so rejected and disposable.

Since we gained fluency last year, my sister Tara has marveled: “Wow, Danny, you are actually a super friendly guy! I am so impressed with how much you love socializing with people!” I had always wanted to be gregarious but didn’t have a way of showing it.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMIt is ironic that my love for socializing was revealed during the pandemic.

But it turned out to be a wonderful time to join the Speller community! Online gatherings are actually an amazing way to connect through spelling. I had previously only joined calls from family abroad for a few minutes, if that, but now I enjoy being on calls for over an hour with my new Speller friends! It has opened up a whole new way of connecting with people.

And now, I can resume meeting with people in person! I am so excited but also nervous. In person, I can’t mute my stimming or turn off the video when I get dysregulated. I can’t easily say bye and immediately be home on my couch resting after having spent so much energy socializing (it is exhausting to be so charming and witty). I also can’t avoid burping or farting, which is actually mortifying, and that is much more awkward in person.S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM

But I am finding that people are much kinder than when I was in school. I went to a party with Tara last weekend (even just saying that – “I went to a party” – is thrilling) with her friends, some of whom I also was friends with, but others that I barely knew. They were so welcoming, and I felt so included. I am still floating with joy remembering how I was finally able to chat and joke and just be a part of it all!

And when I got too tired, I could tell Tara that I needed to lie down. So, she could ask the host if I could rest on the couch, and the host brought me a comfy pillow and showed me to the couch. And I was still able to hear the mirthful conversation while feeling I was cared for and like it was not so weird to need some downtime. I smiled as I dozed off.

I have been so thrilled to share my newly accessible words with my old friends, and to use those words in making new friends. And it is beyond exciting to think of all the conversations I will share with friends into the future!

For SpellX 2020, I made a video on friendship with several of my new Speller friends. Please watch and enjoy!


S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMI am a 35 year old minimally-speaking autistic man. Since gaining fluency in S2C, I have been thrilled to share my words with the world. I am passionate about social justice, as well as friendship, the ocean, cooking, and travel. I am the editor-in-chief of Leo in Bloom magazine, which centers on empathy, and the director and co-host of The Ocean and Us podcast. I am a member and meeting co-facilitator in the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network I am also so lucky to have wonderful friends! Website: dannywithwords.com

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

One response to “Words With Friends”

  1. dell ward says:

    Danny, I loved the song and the pictures, it is so wonderful to hear your voice and see the looks of joy on your face, keepp going and improving each day. Love to you. XXXX

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