In March of this year, I did a presentation on Letterboard for the Lynx Project. They work with non-speaking autistic people by turning their poetry into songs. I am now working with musician, Liza Sobel, to create songs for their next concert. Liza will write songs based upon my blog posts and some additional collaboration between us. She liked the following blog posts to start:
Autism Is a Changing Idea – March 2019 (my first post)
She also asked me the following questions with my answers under each:
“Give some examples of how Mitchell felt alone before he could communicate with others?” – Nobody could ask me what I wanted and they assumed that I had no opinion and that I understood very little. I couldn’t get what I wanted so I felt frustrated and angry.
“How and what Mitchell was able to communicate once he learned RPM?“ – I was able to tell my family that I loved them for the first time. They do so much for me that it was good to express my feelings. I could show the world I was smart. I started being able to direct my own world – what to do, eat, listen and read.
I also encouraged her to use my blog from August 2020 – Presumed Competence Presentation. Here are some transcribed excerpts from that speech.
- I have non speaking autism and have struggled all my life to get a voice. At the beginning, teachers assumed I was developmentally delayed and treated me like a baby. They didn’t give me age appropriate work to challenge me to do my best. They had me do too many easy subjects….If you couldn’t speak would you like to be talked to like a toddler. It is really degrading and hurtful to me.
- [Letterboard] has given me a voice beyond what I could have imagined.
- It took me a long time to learn rpm and it was a lot of work but it opened up my world. I believe any autistic person who can’t talk would benefit from it. I have learned how to answer questions, tell me needs, express myself and advocate for myself.
- Typing with a letterboard gave me a new opportunity in life that opened the world to me. So many can learn this as well. It does take a lot of time for the student to learn how to use the letterboard and for their communication partners to pair with the student.
- They now give me grade level appropriate work like physics, geometry and history. This makes me happy to do my best.