The Story of Me

My name is Brian. I am twenty-four years old and I have autism. Why am I telling you this? Because it will be important for you to understand my story. When my family first found out I had autism they were told I would never walk or talk and that it was my parents fault. The doctors told them I would never live a normal life. Well, they were right, my life isn’t what you might consider normal but it is awesome. I am here to tell you why it is so awesome. I was born into the most wonderful family. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you today.

Growing up I always knew I was different but my family made me feel totally normal. For a long time I thought it was completely normal to scream when the washer beeped or when I had enough to eat. It wasn’t until I saw my brother grow up that I realized my normal was different than his. That was the first time I realized my life would never look the same as his. You may think I sound bitter but I am not at all. In fact I am thrilled to be here with my best friend sharing my story.

Always being in control of your body is something people take for granted. Autism robs me of my control. You probably think that sounds crazy, as most people do. But autism is a crazy thing. The first thing I want you to know is this is not a plea for your sympathy but an opportunity to listen to what autism really is. So here we go!

For many years people could not understand why autistics lacked total control of their body but assumed they lacked control of their minds as well. Well then some really smart people decided to study the brain and figured out that a deficit in one area does not impact the other. That led autism experts to new research that revealed they aren’t the experts after all!

I have spent most of my life mourning the lost of my voice thinking I would never see it again but I was wrong. A year ago my mom found a program that allows me to point to letters to spell and communicate my thoughts. When she realized how wonderful this program is she knew she had to spread the word. My dad and mom have dedicated their lives to helping me. I am particularly lucky to have the greatest dad. If it weren’t for them I can’t imagine where I’d be. The first person always to know about changes in my life is Emily, my longtime staff and best friend. Together they always help me to grow.

So that leads us to where we are today. Over the past year Emily and I have worked tirelessly to learn to communicate with each other and spread awareness. Now I think it is time to help others understand why this project is so important to me. I believe every autistic deserves a voice. I want to help them find their voice! With the help of my family and Emily I will make this dream a reality. I will use the power of my voice and the help of my sidekick Emily to make this vision come to life.

So now you may be wondering what you can do. It is pretty simple actually: Treat autistics with respect and dignity. Trust me, it makes a huge difference. We can truly change the way people perceive autism and it starts today!

A Legacy Worth Leaving

If this pandemic is to teach us anything, it is that the smallest acts of kindness can mean so much. Since GranDee Donohue and Pop Foti died my family has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from our friends and family.

I find peace in these acts of kindness. For is it is a living testament of my Pop pop Donohue’s famous words to his family: “Give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.” GranDee and Pop Foti gave all of themselves to their family, their friends, and their community.

Their example is one of selfless love and devotion to making the world a better place for future generations. They planted trees they would never see. And that is a legacy worth leaving.

STILL Looking for Love…

christmas christmas house cold fir

Photo by Jill Wellington on

It happens only so often so be patient and aware! If you wish to win the heart of your beloved follow these three simple steps. First you must wait for the first snow to fall. When it does you mustn’t waste any time! The next step is to throw on your warmest winter boots and head outside. Moving counterclockwise you must circle three times around your dwelling. Do this and I assure you that true love will appear before the first blossom of spring. 

Another Shot at Love

If you sent your letter to the oak, and still haven’t found your one true love… Don’t worry, Sarah has a word of advice! Get your wallets ready…

a red trendy high heels

Photo by Castorly Stock on

If a man or woman is looking for love they should follow these steps.

First they must purchase a pair of red shoes.

Next they must place the shoes under the open side of their bed.

Lastly they need to recite the following line: “I wish on the moon, I wish on the sun, for the universe to send me my one.”

Looking For Love? Continued…

Brian’s advice didn’t help you? Well, don’t worry! Next up we have some words of wisdom from Alex! Check it out…

close up of tree against sky

Photo by Pixabay on

For the Ladies:

If a girl wishes to meet the partner of her dreams she must follow a few simple steps. First she must cut off a lock of her hair. Then she must boil it in a pot of warm water and lavender. Boiling it until the house fills with the scent. When she is finished she has to pour the water into the fireplace with the help of an older married woman. After 40 days and 40 nights true love will appear at her doorstep.

For the Gentlemen:

Now for the men it’s really quite simple. After catching three rabbits from a richly grown forest and tapping the syrup from a maple tree he must cook the rabbits over an open flame and throw in two tablespoons of the fresh syrup. This will bring a wildly sweet romance his way. 

Looking for Love?

This day & age, it can be tough to find love. But what if we were to tell you that you could find it, and all you would have to do is write a letter? Well, you can. You just have to mail your letter to The Bridegroom’s Oak in Germany. The Oak is an ancient tree in Germany that is responsible for more than 100 marriages…and counting. A few of the spellers at Inside Voice have written their own legends on how to score that special someone.

We are going to kick off this series with a little advice from Brian Foti:


On the 14th day of the seventh month a young maiden looking for true love must follow these simple steps. First she must locate a broomstick and place it on the first step into her home. Next she must sprinkle petals from a rose red as blood. Then she watches the sun as it sets and hums to the song of her heart’s design. 

Now for the gentlemen. They must wake on the 14th day of the tenth month and prepare two fresh eggs sunny side up. When it is time to eat they too must hum the song of their hearts design. They must then eat their eggs with their eyes closed and their heart open. 

Stay tuned for more legends throughout the month of February!


Open Letter to Teachers

2019 Welcome back to School


A little #MondayMotivation…

In today’s post, Brian chose to write a letter to teachers entering into the new school year. Please enjoy his words of encouragement, and let’s crush this week!

It’s a new year full of new opportunities. Each year at this time I think about all of the excitement and anticipation felt by students and teachers everywhere. The bittersweet feeling of summer ending and opening the doors to so much new growth. My message is for the teachers who will soon look a new classroom full of students in the eyes. I want to remind you that your students need you to inspire them towards greatness. It won’t always be easy but the power to shape young minds is in your hands. Tell them they are more than a score on a test. Remind them of the power of kindness and positivity. Teach them what a privilege it is to learn and to be taught and to exercise gratitude everyday for all they have been given. Best of luck in the new year. You got this!


Take Me to the Beach


There is a place I love to go

An oasis of sun and sand

Where the waves and seagulls

Play songs while I stand

Feet in the water

Salty ocean kissed skin

There’s no better way

For the day to begin

I bask in the beauty of this very special place

A smile filled with gratitude stretched across my face

I’m thankful for the sand burying my feet

Thankful for the day I spent plopped down on the beach

Of all the gorgeous places out there to be seen

Time spent in the sand is where I feel most keen

There is a place I love to go, an oasis of sun and sand

You’ll find me there any chance I get, cocktail in my hand

-A Poem by Brian Foti


Have you ever felt that warmth in your heart when surrounded by people who just understand you? Have you felt it just like a gust of fresh air on your skin when it is soaking up the sun? Do you have those friends that without words can make you feel understood? This is what I have gained over the past 2 years and this is what I wish for all of you.

For those who don’t know me I am Alex LePape and I communicate using a letterboard. Oh and I have autism! I don’t lead with that anymore. Why you ask? Because it doesn’t matter. I am an 18 year old guy with a thirst for adventure and a love for learning. I am here today to share my journey of discovering friendship at 16 years old. Let me start by saying that connecting with people is something I have always loved and something my parents valued in our household. But it was limited by my difficulty communicating through speech. Enter the letterboard! I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say this 9” x 11” sheet of laminated cardboard changed everything. It redefined the meaning of friendship. It gave me infinite means of expression. It revealed my true self to the world. And it. Was. Epic.

I imagine what that sounds like to someone who has not seen the impact of the spelling to communicate method but it’s true. I love that I can tell people the truth from the perspective of someone that very much struggled to see that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. But here I am!

In the past two years I have had the privilege of finding [camaraderie] with a group of strong like minded individuals. I have had the pleasure of getting to know them and have grown so much from what they have taught me about myself. I wanted to take the time to write a sort of appreciation post to say thank you to all the friends I have made and to share with all of you that friendship has no bounds.

Autism Acceptance Month


Hello to my lovely followers. It’s that time of year again, Autism awareness month or as we like to call it Autism Acceptance month. It goes without saying that I see tremendous value in taking time to spread both awareness and acceptance about autism. I am in the unique position of being an expert on this topic. I am after all… Autistic! I have the means to communicate with all of you and so I would like to take the opportunity to speak on what I hope you will take away from this month.

The truth is people like me are still wildly misunderstood by most. A vast history of doctors falsely categorizing us as unintelligent and incapable of meaningful thoughts, feelings, and ideas still haunts us. It is our job to change that and we have been working tirelessly to do that for the last two years. As with any great movement it starts with one person but it is fueled by the hard work and passion of many.

What I ask is that you be part of the movement that changes the way people define autism. Be part of the movement that shifts the mindset from the incapabilities of our minds to the endless possibilities of our minds. Help us change the conversations and tear down the stigmas that surround this disorder. Have confidence in our competence.

It is important that we move together towards a stronger more inclusive society. That we work to embrace and accept differences. Let’s take this opportunity to start believing that when given the necessary tools everyone has the power to achieve greatness. Let’s see this month as more than just awareness.


My Barbershop

Barbershops are a staple in our communities, something we are all familiar with. But what you may not know is the depth of these establishments. They are referenced as early as 296 BC but the barbershops you are familiar with began to make their mark in the 19th century, specifically with the African American communities. The shops provided opportunities for work, giving black men the chance to be entrepreneurs but it doubled as a place to gather. And that is what I am here to talk about with you.

During a time when society had little respect for the black community they chose to find strength in community with one another. They gathered through shared experience and grew stronger by connecting with each other. The shops were a safe place. A place they felt heard. I can’t begin to understand the fear they experienced on a daily basis but I can fully relate to the need to feel heard.

The Gang got together as we do every month and explored this very topic. It got me thinking that Tom and Emily [our communication partners] have allowed us to create our own sort of barbershop. We all came together through the shared experience of finding our voice. We gather as friends to talk, to listen, and to share ideas. We have seen first hand the strength that comes from connecting with others.

My dear friend Alex shared with us something powerful…”Groups are designed by human nature. We are not meant to be alone”. This resonated with me deeply. We are NOT created to be alone. We have an innate desire to connect. Look throughout history and you will see this time and time again.

I will close my thoughts by sharing my truth. My life is made full by my relationships with others and I am forever grateful for Alex, Nasser, Sarah, Kevin, and Chris for being my barbershop.