Against the Current

As communication partners, friends, and loved ones, we will never fully grasp how hard it is for our non speaking friends to spell their thoughts and beliefs.

But we can always gain a better understanding from them.

Kevin –  one of Brian’s friends and a guest writer of several posts here on Speak Without A Voice – shared his experience with us:

SPELLING BECAME [A] *NONDECLARATIVE [MEMORY]. IT WAS A SLOW BURN AS YOU KNOW. BUT IT WAS WORTH THE SCENIC ROUTE. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR MY SIDE OF SPELLING? I CAN’T SPEAK FOR EVERYONE BUT IN MY MIND SPELLING IS LIKE GOING AGAINST THE CURRENT. I HAVE LEARNED HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST IT. BUT THE CURRENT IS STRONGER ON SOME DAYS. BUT I CAN STILL BEAT IT WITH WILLPOWER.

 

(*a nondeclarative memory is a memory that is done unconsciously, like throwing a ball or walking)

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Lucky Pigs

Ever wonder how pigs became associated with money?

Well, here’s the short version:

A long time ago, folks used to store extra change in pots and jars made out of “pygg” (pronounced: “pug”). Pygg was an affordable orange clay that had all kinds of uses. As time went on, the pronunciation of the word changed from “pug” to “pig.”

It was around this time that potters began receiving orders for “pygg banks.” They decided to shape them like…well…pigs. This visual play on words delighted both children and adults. Soon, potters were flooded with “pygg bank” orders.

Piggy banks have expanded into other cultures, too. Some exchange “lucky pigs” to bring good luck and good fortune to the household.

The history of piggy banks has been formatted into a lesson for Brian and his friends to learn about. At the end of this lesson the speller is asked, “What item would you exchange to bring good luck and good fortune to someone else?”

Here is what a couple of Brian’s friends had to say:

“I THINK I’D HAVE TO SAY CANDLES. THE CANDLE IS A TOTAL EMBODIMENT OF LIFE. ITS FLAME REPRESENTS LIFE ITSELF. IT IS ALSO USEFUL WHEN THERE IS NO LIGHT. IN THE DARKNESS THE CANDLE IS THE ONE TRUE SOURCE OF LIGHT. THIS FOCUSES US ON THE IMAGERY THAT WITH DARKNESS COMES LIGHT. THIS REMINDS US TO BE THAT LIGHT FOR OTHERS.”

“THIS WAS TOUGH TO DECIDE. I CAME UP WITH TIME ITSELF. TIME DOESN’T BELONG TO ANYONE OR TWO ANYTHING. THAT IS WHY IS SO IMPORTANT. SOMEONE WHO GIVES THEIR TIME NOT ONLY VALUES YOU BUT THEY UNDERSTAND THAT TIME CANNOT BE GIVEN BACK. ONCE IT’S GONE IT IS GONE. NO TAKEBACKSIES. TIME IS THE REALEST GIFT YOU CAN BESTOW TO SOMEONE TO SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION.”

An Open Letter for Autism Awareness Nights

During the most recent group session, Brian and his friends talked about how they could continue autism empowerment beyond April.

One of the ideas they had was to write a letter to the organizations that host Autism Awareness Nights. Here is what they had to say:

Dear World,

The awareness surrounding autism has grown exponentially.

But there is room for improvement. We need to see more awareness pieces others will understand. We know you mean well but it is not enough to place graphics up on a screen. 

Please understand we are not bitter. All we want is to help others understand our world. Please hear us out. It could further educate the world. We can offer so much. We are so thankful for your help and we hope you will accept ours.

Together we can change the face of autism.

Sincerely,

The Gang

Capable and Ready

Guest post numero dos coming your way!

Our second post of today is via our good friend, Gregory. He wanted to craft his post around his journey through S2C (Spelling to Communicate) and how he wants to carry on Autism Empowerment Month. The floor is yours, Gregory.

I want to start by introducing myself. My name is Gregory Tino and I have autism. I recently was given the gift of a lifetime, my voice. Just under a year ago, I was introduced to Spelling to Communicate. My life was completely changed over the course of three days. I was being taught a method that helps to build harmony between the brain and the body. You see, my whole life I was misunderstood because my body couldn’t communicate what my mind was thinking. The one thing I could always rely on though was my family, and that’s why I am here today. My family always believed I was capable and that’s what led me to Inside Voice. Now I am able to sit here today and deliver my message to all of you. This year I challenge you to spread more than awareness. I challenge you to educate yourself on what it means to be inclusive. We autistics are capable and ready to prove it.

 

 

The Group Talks About Autism

This past weekend, our spellers got together for their first April group session. (Yes, there will be another.)

Our group talked about the perception of autism and how it has changed during their lifetime. They also discussed some new themes for Autism Encouragement Month as well as how they would pitch each idea.

The group finished with a “friendly” game of UNO where the competition brought out a little bit of smack talk from each of the spellers.

 

Rapid fire: In one word, what is autism to you?

A: Fraction of my identity

N: A blessing in disguise  

B: Intricate

K: Challenge

S: Empowering

G: Falsely represented

What changes have you seen in the general population in regards to their education about autistics?

A: I like to think people are opening their minds about what we are capable of.

S: I think we are seeing the change happen before our eyes.

G: I’ve been more accepted into the community.

What are your responses to this?

N: I agree with G. I have definitely seen more acceptance. History has shown outcasts have been accepted over time.

B: S, you are right. We are actively living out the change.

K: I think we are at the center of the change.

What is your message to the public for Autism Encouragement Month?

N: See beyond my diagnosis. I have so much to offer the world.

A: Non-speaking does not equal non-thinking! I am a great thinker as it turns out!

G: I am human first, my autism is only one part of my identity.

K: Change the mindset.

B: We used to be voiceless but now we have a voice for change.

S: I am capable. I am smart. I am aware.

What theme would you suggest to the Autism Society?

G: Attitude

N: Intelligence

A: Styles

K: Destination

S: Nobility

B: Beginning  

Give me your elevator pitch for your theme.

A: There’s so many types of autism that the public should know.

B: We are beginning a new chapter in the world of autism.

S: It is noble to be autistic.

N: People need to believe we are intelligent.

K: The destination for nonspeakers is unknown.

G: Society needs a better attitude towards change.

Team A:

B: It’s on guys

A: I am going to crush you all

S: Girl power Em

(Both B and A have two cards left)

A: B, let the best man win!

B: May the best man win!

A: UNO!

B: Haha I guess you’re the best man this time

S: I need better cards haha

(A has one card left and is forced to draw, (the plot thickens) B reverses the game so A must draw more cards.)

B: Not this time dude haha

A: Ut oh

(B plays a pick two)

B: Take that A,

A: Tough sh**

(A wins it all)

A: Smell that? That’s victory

Team B:

N: I’m going to win.

K: I think not!
G: You’re all in trouble.

N makes G draw four. What do you have to say to that, G?
G: That’s cold.

Tom makes K draw four when he has UNO.

K: That’s mean Tom.

N had to draw a bunch of cards.

N: Well this whomps.

G makes K draw two.

G: My house!

K: You suck G.

 

We Are Just Like You

Hello everyone!

We hope you had a great weekend and are ready for a fresh new month ahead. With the next few weeks being dedicated to autistics and learning even more from them, we wanted to start off with a little message from Brian. This month, we will have guest posts from some of his friends along with some other content for your enjoyment.

Here is Brian’s message to you all. Happy Monday!

I AM DEDICATED TO MAKING AUTISTICS MORE MAINSTREAM. THIS STARTS WITH AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH. AUTISTICS AS THE WORLD SEES THEM ARE NOT SEEN AS CAPABLE HUMAN BEINGS. THIS MUST CHANGE. WE ARE CAPABLE, WE ARE SMART. THIS DOESN’T SEEM TO BE THE CASE ON THE OUTSIDE. BUT I PROMISE IF YOU TREAT AND SPEAK TO US LIKE WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU, YOU WILL SEE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE.

Ask Us Anything – Replies – Part 1

Last week, we asked you to give us some questions we could toss to our spellers, and wow, did you come through with some great ones!

We selected a few and our spellers gave us some great feedback. We will be continuing this series, so if you do not see your question, it is in the docket for us to ask them. We will also be revisiting some of these questions in the near future, too. If there are any other questions you’d like to ask the spellers, please feel free to comment below! 

What would your dream classroom look like?

-My ideal classroom has lots of stuff to aid my sensory needs. These of course mean things that help calm me down. It can be anything from stress balls to the word searches to the Paint by Stickers.

-A dream classroom always has good things to help student’s sensory that can prove to overload them. A stress ball is always helpful to help take their mind off all that is going around them.

What is one action step you can take towards achieving your goal? For the spellers who weren’t at the group or for those who would just like to switch their goal up, identify an area where you like to learn more about or a skill you’d like to work on. How can we as family members, friends, and communication partners help you?

-Dollar dollar bills. It is essential that support stretches across settings. In order for us to truly make changes we need the whole team on board. That looks different for everyone but it is critical. I take action everyday! It is simply hard to see. I take action within myself.

Do you think that Letterboard would benefit children, and if so, at what age would you begin introducing it to them? Would you like to eventually see Letterboard being taught in elementary schools?

Letterboard is used with children as young as 4 in other communities like GKTC in Virginia who we are fortunate to work with. It is greatly beneficial to start early on. I would love to see it used in schools but would hate to see the integrity of the method compromised.