ZEKWANDE MATHENJWA – An advocate for others like me

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

I had the absolute pleasure to sit down with Zekwande from South Africa to learn more about him and his journey as a nonspeaker with Spelling to Communicate. I quickly learned that he had a wicked sense of humor and I realized that he is definitely someone that I would love to hang out with and get to know better!! I hope that you enjoy our chat as much as I did. 

~Dana

Zekwande, what is something that you want others to know about you?

Everyone should know how smart I am. I have a great sense of humor.  

If you had a superpower what would it be, why would you choose it and what would you do with it? 

I really want to have no body so that I can listen in to everyone’s conversations. Lurk in on conversations like planning my birthday. 

Now I am definitely seeing the sense of humor coming out!! I love it! 

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

What is your wish for the nonspeaking community? 

To find their voice like I did. 

I love this because so many of the nonspeakers that I talk with say the exact same thing. You are all advocates for each other and it is awesome! All of you are going to change the world!

So, Zekwande what does communication mean to you?

Sharing thoughts and expressing ideas back and forth. 

Absolutely! I think sometimes we see communication as a one way street and which can make it difficult for some of our unreliably speaking spellers. They have speech, but are unable to communicate, which as you said is the back and forth sharing and expression of ideas. 

What would you say are the top three ways spelling has affected your life?

  1. I am in a proper school with people who really love me. 
  2. I have friends like me. 
  3. I am changing the world. 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMYES! As a practitioner I fully understand the importance of not only presuming competence, but also ensuring that you have appropriate academic content. On top of that, you have teachers and others that support you and understand your body. This is fantastic! I also see spellers continuously debunk the theory that individuals with autism don’t like to be social. Time and time again my spellers and students all tell me that they love their friends. All of us need strong relationships to get through life! 

You ARE changing the world. All of our spellers are paving the way for future spellers and trailblazing for those coming behind. Your hard work will allow for more nonspeakers to have access, agency and autonomy – thank you Zekwande!

What is bringing you life and joy these days? Tell us about it.

Advocating and changing perceptions about nonspeakers. 

Who inspires you? How would you want to inspire others?

Everyone at Sisu Hub inspires me. They strive for stuff I dream about like equity. I need to be a part of that. 

Yes! They need YOU to be a part of it!! Thank you for helping to change the world!

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMZekwande is passionate about advocating for other nonspeakers. He says this is his life’s purpose. Described as happy and cheeky, his words are motivating and inspiring. He’s most proud he “overcame the odds of not being able to communicate.”

 

Don’t miss Zekwande’s Presentation at SpellX! “Words worth a listen!” Make sure to register for SpellX so you don’t miss any spellers

 

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

2 responses to “ZEKWANDE MATHENJWA – An advocate for others like me”

  1. This was lovely to read. It is enlightening because often, parents of Autistic children assume that their children can’t understand them because they are not speaking back to them. Meanwhile, all that the kids need are tools to communicate. It gives hope to see that once the child has the tools and has developed receptive language, they may have expressive language.

    • I-ASC says:

      Your comment is spot on. The more you look at the role of motor in communication, the more you will realize this is the skill we need to be teaching.

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