Graciela was a guest blogger on Faith Love and Hope with Autism last week. Check out what she had to say about her experience and her call to all for more awareness and acceptance.
Graciela was a guest blogger on Faith Love and Hope with Autism last week. Check out what she had to say about her experience and her call to all for more awareness and acceptance.
After listening to the following podcast (the first story), G wanted to reflect on it and wanted her reflection posted here.
I want to try to be more like the woman in the story who has found a way to strongly work towards her goals in spite of her differences. Many times I say that I want to do something and want to also amaze others but then I flounder because dreams are hard to achieve. Making my dreams come true all together depends on me and my ability. my autism will not hold me down and will not be an excuse. Autism is a difference; not some absurd derangement. The autistic brain amazes me and should not be dried up with lack of use.
(video of Graciela spelling out part of this blog…)
One day a happy and beautiful couple found out they were having a baby. Talking to the baby was part of their daily routine.
Life changed after the baby arrived. The baby life was hard on the couple. People made comments about the baby’s development and the couple grew concerned.
Wanting to make the baby as normal as possible the mom started talking to many therapists and doctors. They gave her a lot of advice for the baby.
The mom and dad made many sacrifices for the baby. They appeared to always have everything under control but at home they let the truth out. They were both afraid for the alternate path of the baby. But they kept putting one foot going forward.
Years passed and the baby became a beautiful girl. Then the couple decided to make a major life change and move to Georgia. People thought they were crazy. The girl thought so too.
From the girl’s perspective the couple had made a major mistake that would make her life even harder because she was brilliant but no one could see this because her body is so hard to control.
Then an amazing life changing event happened. The girl found a way to express herself and all of the brilliance was able to come out.
People now respect the girl for her intelligence.
Many people still need to understand that a lot of kids like the girl have so much intelligence that is trapped in an uncooperative and hard to control body. They must be given the gift of communication.
Sometimes having autism is beautiful and sometimes it is awful. Autistics are caring and hard working kinds of people and are trying to get the respect they deserve.
Sharing my story is not easy for me because I was silent for many years.
Silence was good in some weary ways. I was able to get good at listening and was able to get good at determining my response to conversations being held around me.
Staying silent would have been awful. can you imagine never being able to say really important things? Being unable to speak as an autistic is awful because many think you form no opinions or have any thoughts.
Staying silent would have been awful in another way. Calling non speaking autistics retarded is quite common but we are so intelligent and have no way to get it out.
Many times I have thought about my life as a beautiful sad non speaking girl and feel that something strong and amazing is going to happen in my life . Autistics have much to offer the world and want to get some acceptance and really want to be truly included or asked to be part of the world.
The really important thing people must understand, teachers especially, is that really the problem is our bodies and not our minds.
MANY AUTISTIC SAVANTS ARE UNDERSERVED IN SCHOOL. THAT REALITY IS PROBABLY THE MOST CHALLENGING OBSTACLE FACING AUTISTIC SAVANTS TODAY. PEOPLE ARE OFTEN CONFUSED BY SAVANTS BECAUSE THEY MANY TIMES APPEAR DISINTERESTED IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM OR CANNOT COMMUNICATE WELL WITH OTHERS WHICH MAKES IT HARD FOR MANY TO RECOGNIZE THAT THEY ARE MORE INTELLIGENT THAN THEY ARE GIVEN CREDIT FOR TIME AND TIME AGAIN. OPEN MINDS AMAZED BY THE RARE INTELLIGENCE OF SAVANTS ARE LEADING THE WAY TOWARDS NEW EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS FOR SAVANTS.
DARING TO PUT GOALS THAT ARE BASED ON COMMUNICATION AND INTELLIGENCE GIVES SAVANTS THE FOUNDATION THEY NEED TO HAVE A LIFE WORTH LIVING . HAVING TO LIVE TRAPPED IN A BODY THAT DOES NOT COMMUNICATE WITH THE BRAIN IS FRUSTRATING. THIS MAKES IT HARD FOR ANYONE TO REALLY UNDERSTAND THE POTENTIAL OF NON SPEAKING AUTISTICS. MANY FIND THEMSELVES DIAGNOSED AS RETARDED BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT GIVEN A RELIABLE LEGITIMATE TEST TO MEASURE THEIR INTELLIGENCE. IQ TESTS ARE MADE FOR SPEAKING PEOPLE WITH FULL CONTROL OF THEIR BODIES. AUTISTICS WHO ARE NON SPEAKING MAKE THESE TESTS NULL AND VOID BECAUSE THEY ARE UNABLE TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR MASSIVE INTELLIGENCE ON THIS TYPE OF TEST. FINDING BETTER WAYS TO MEASURE INTELLIGENCE IS CRITICAL. THIS WILL GET SCHOOLS TO GIVE MORE THOUGHT TO THE GOALS THEY HAVE FOR THESE STUDENTS. SAVANTS HAVE RAPID PROCESSING SPEEDS. THEY MUST BE TAUGHT AT THIS PACE.
RARE INTELLIGENCE IS BEING WASTED EVERY DAY IN SCHOOLS THAT DO NOT PLACE ANY VALUE ON THE INTELLIGENCE OF AUTISTICS WHO ARE UNRELIABLE SPEAKERS. THIS PUTS THE ONUS ON THE CHILD TO PROVE HIMSELF ABLE TO HANDLE MORE THAN PEOPLE ASSUME HE CAN. GETTING THE SCHOOL TO BELIEVE IS NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF STRONG WILLED TEACHERS WITH DEGREES FROM TOP UNIVERSITIES WHO CALL THEMSELVES EXPERTS BUT DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE COMPETENCY OF THEIR STUDENTS. ALWAYS ACTING UNDER THIS VERY SKEWED PERSPECTIVE MAKES EDUCATORS FAIL TO GET TO THE HEART OF THEIR STUDENTS’ GIFTS AND INTELLIGENCE. GETTING THESE TEACHERS TO ACCEPT COMPETENCY AND TO ACT ON IT IS KEY. WITH PRESUMPTION OF COMPETENCE SAVANTS WILL COME CLOSER TO GETTING THE EDUCATION THEY DESERVE.
THE AUTISTIC SAVANT IS OFTEN RARELY EDUCATED . THIS IS A SHAME. GIVING LIFE TO AUTISTIC SAVANTS SHOULD BE TOP PRIORITY FOR MANY WHO WORK WITH AUTISTICS IN AN EDUCATIONAL SETTING. AUTISTICS BECOME LESS AND LESS ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN WORK AND EDUCATION BECAUSE THEY ARE LEARNING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER IN SCHOOL. SAVANTS ARE LEFT TO ROT IN THE IGNORANCE OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY. LIFE HAS BEEN UGLY TO PEOPLE WHO ARE AUTISTIC AND NON SPEAKING. . STORIES HAVE BEEN TOLD OF ABUSIVE SITUATIONS IN FAMILIES, SCHOOLS, GROUP HOMES AND OTHER PLACES BECAUSE THE AUTISTIC HAS NO VERY GOOD WAY TO DEFEND HIMSELF. OPENING OUR GREAT SCHOOLS TO THE REALLY INTELLIGENT, UNDERSERVED, AUTISTIC SAVANT WILL MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR EVERYONE.
EDUCATION OF AUTISTICS CAN CHANGE THE FUTURE. WALLS MUST COME DOWN AND MINDS MUST BE OPENED. WITH MANY LIVES AT STAKE IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT PEOPLE QUESTION THE CURRENT PRACTICES. THEN THEY MUST WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY CHANGES TO CURRICULUM OR ELSE THE AUTISTIC, REALLY INTELLIGENT SAVANT WILL BE FORGOTTEN AND MANY BRILLIANT MINDS WILL GO TO WASTE.
Making your many New Years resolutions takes a lot of thought. I put a lot of thought into my resolutions for this year. Take some time to write your resolutions down. This wants to go to really have an impact on you.
Many resolutions are kind of things that are personal. Many resolutions get thrown out when life gets busy. The saving hard fact in my life is that life is many challenging moments put together into days, weeks, months and years. Making resolutions is maybe the saving thing in my life because they give many many thoughts direction.
Talking more with my mouth is my biggest resolution this year. I want to rally my brain going together with my body. I really have to work hard. I want to make a life that is livable and full of the things all twelve year olds want for themselves.
I am always making some resolutions to go to school. I want to go to a secondary school that will make me feel challenged. Right now I do not like being home schooled because many of the living opportunities are missing. Having this change this year would be great!
Outsiders think that I am a very simple minded person but in reality I am so beautifully intelligent. I want to be able to show this to others.
A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE. THIS THANKSGIVING I AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY FAMILY. LIFE ALWAYS HAS HARD MOMENTS BUT MANY OF THESE MOMENTS ARE MADE BETTER BY FAMILY. LIFE IS GETTING TOUGHER AS ADOLESCENCE APPROACHES. THIS HAS BEEN HARD AND CHALLENGING FOR ME AND ALSO FOR MY MOM. HAVING TO GO TO THE ALL INTENSIVE LIFE OF MANY AUTISTICS IS NOT EASY FOR MANY NON AUTISTICS. MANY GO LIVE THEIR OWN LIVES WHILE GIVING THEIR GOOD AUTISTIC CHILDREN THAT CANNOT CONTROL THEIR ALL CARELESS BODIES AWAY TO GO TO SCHOOLS THAT DO NOT HAVE THE PRESUMPTION OF COMPETENCE AS THEIR MAIN FINDING. MANY GIVE UP ON THEIR KIDS. I AM ALWAYS THINKING OF LIFE AND LUCK. THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON. THANKSGIVING IS A TIME TO BE GRATEFUL. MAKING THANKS A PART OF HAVING OPEN HEARTS HAS MADE ITS WAY INTO MY LIFE. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.
MY YOUNGER SISTER HAS SOMETHING TO SHARE TOO…
I am thankful for a lot of things but I am very thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful for all my family including my guinea pigs. I am thankful for my friends who make the world better, and my family who is always there.
Autistics are determined to get freedom of expression. Another young girl with a beautiful voice wants to be heard. Open your ears and listen to my friend, Katerina .
Once upon a time there lived a girl named Katerina. She was very beautiful and so sad, no one could communicate with her because she had no speech. Katerina’s voice was trapped inside her head. She was brilliant but everyone treated her like she was stupid. Not having speech was harmful, she was perceived as not having any language, oh how wrong they all were. Language and speech are not the same! Katerina developed such anger, so many insensitive cruel people said such horrible things about the girl in front of her, thinking she did not understand. People who were suppose to educate the girl did not believe she had any potential. Such a sad life the girl had and oh how lonely. Imagine a world where you have no one but yourself to connect with, how many people could survive? Katerina did. Katerina learned to communicate her thoughts through RPM. Some people still doubted her, fools.
RPM gave Katerina the strength and drive to find a voice. She yearned to find a way to show the world how smart she was. She needed speech to show them. On Halloween night, Katerina woke up with a brilliant plan, she was going to make a magic potion that would allow all the words in her head to spill out of her mouth. She jumped out of bed, lite a candle for some light and scrambled around her bedroom frantically for her book on magic potions. Where did she last see it? Yes, under her bed! Katerina pulled out the book and turned to the drink some speech potion page.
Katerina carefully read the directions, this recipe looked yummy. She quietly went downstairs and gathered her ingredients, sugar, water, fresh lemons and food coloring. She ran up to her room, mixed the ingredients together while saying the magic words ” talk! speech, turn on” , she said the magic words in her head three times and then gulped down the drink that looked like pink lemonade and smelled like sour lemons. The potion was wet and smooth and even more delicious then Katerina could ever imagine. Puffs of steam came out of her mouth and ears. Did it work? Katerina was not sure at first but then all of a sudden she felt different. Katerina opened her mouth and out spilled such beautiful words! Ecstatic to hear speech come out of her mouth, Katerina frantically began labeling everything in her room. She was excited and wanted her parents to hear her speech too.
Her parents were in a deep sleep, she gently nudged her mom and waited for her mom to wake up. When mom woke up, she looked at Katerina and asked “what’s wrong Katerina?” Katerina smiled and said “nothing is wrong mom, things couldn’t be better!” Mom jumped out of bed and turned on the lights. She hugged Katerina and burst into tears. Dad woke up and said “what is going on?” Katerina began talking and now dad was speechless. The world seemed perfect and no one doubted Katerina’s intellect.
Katerina made it her life’s mission to give voices to all non speaking kids, she never wanted any child to be treated as cruelly as she had been. Non speaking kids are underestimated by the world! Going to bed that night Katerina realized advocating for non speaking kids was necessary and could be accomplished with speech, a letterboard or a keyboard. To say speech is better then a letterboard is wrong, a letterboard is a voice! Katerina undid her potion, she realized she loved herself the way she was. It was not her that needed to change, people need to accept and learn RPM and teach non speaking kids like they do regular kids. Now is the time for change, watch out world Katerina has found her voice!
Note from G’s mom: This post is the result of a memoir writing assignment for G’s Language Arts class. This is the result of several weeks of drafting, editing, revising, etc. Enjoy!
ALL OF MY LIFE I HAVE CARED SO MUCH ABOUT OTHERS BUT HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO COMMUNICATE MY FEELINGS TO ANYONE. I AM ALWAYS ASKED A LOT OF INTERESTING QUESTIONS AND AM ALWAYS FRUSTRATED BY THE FACT THAT I CANNOT ANSWER THEM EASILY.
ONE DAY SOMEONE ASKED MY MOM, “HAVE YOU BEEN TO SEE SOMA?”. I KEPT HIDING MY EXCITEMENT BECAUSE HEAVENLY SOMA GIVES KIDS A VOICE. I WAS WORRIED THAT THIS OPPORTUNITY WOULD NEVER MATERIALIZE. THEN MY MOM TOLD ME ABOUT HAVING THE RIGHT INTELLIGENCE WITH THE WRONG MOTOR SYSTEM. I ALWAYS KNEW HAVING THIS CARELESS BODY WAS GETTING IN MY WAY. LEARNING THAT MY MOM GOT THIS MADE ME SO HOPEFUL. SHE GOT HER ACT TOGETHER AND SIGNED UP FOR AN AMAZING WEEK WITH SOMA. HAVING THE REALLY MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET SOMA WAS LIKE SAVING ME FROM A LONELY LIFE IN A SILENT PRISON. I THINK LEARNING RPM WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT IN MY LIFE TO DATE.
OVER THE COURSE OF THE WEEK I WAS ABLE TO LEARN HOW TO GO TO THE STENCIL BOARDS TO DEMONSTRATE THAT I AM A RICH THINKER WHO IS KIND, FUNNY AND INTELLIGENT. I FELT HAPPINESS LIKE NEVER BEFORE. SOMA HELPS MANY GET OUT FROM LIVING IN PRISON. SHE CHANGED MY LIFE. I ALMOST CRIED WHEN WE LEFT SOMA’S OFFICE BECAUSE SHE WAS THE ONLY PERSON I KNEW WHO COULD REACH ME AND GET ME TO COMMUNICATE WHAT I ALWAYS KNEW WHICH WAS THAT I AM A LIVELY GIRL WITH A GIFTED MIND AND MANY THINGS TO SAY. I HAD MASSIVE FEELINGS THAT DAY WE LEFT TEXAS.
THEN A REALLY MAGICAL THING HAPPENED WITH MY MOM. SINCE RETURNING FROM TEXAS SHE MADE GIVING RPM A CHANCE A PRIORITY. MANY OTHER INTERVENTIONS WERE NOT WORKING. OTHER INTERVENTIONS WERE NOT HELPING ME LEARN TO COMMUNICATE. GETTING TO TEXAS WAS A CHALLENGE BECAUSE WE HAD MOVED TO GET A NEW SCHOOL FOR ME. I ALWAYS WAS THINKING THAT I LEARNED A LOT BETTER AT HOME WITH MY MOM. HOWEVER MY MOM THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY. SO WE MOVED TO GEORGIA. REALLY MEANDERING EDUCATION HAS GIVEN ME A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE HELPED OR HINDERED ME. FINDING RPM HAD A LOT OF THE AWESOME AND AMAZING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES IN IT. SO THIS MEANT I COULD FIND THE MAGNIFICENT GIFTS I HAVE AND BECAUSE OF RPM I CAN FINALLY SHARE THESE GIFTS WITH OTHERS.
GIVING SOME THOUGHT TO MY SUCCESS HAS MADE ME REALIZE THAT PART OF MY RARE LEARNING IS DUE TO RPM BUT THE OTHER HUGE FACTOR IS MANY HOURS OF PRACTICE WITH MY MOM. SHE ALWAYS PUTS IN THE TIME AND ENERGY SO THAT I CAN BE SUCCESSFUL. SHE IS A HERO TO ME. PAVING THE WAY TO SUCH REALLY GREAT LEARNING HAS NOT BEEN EASY FOR ME. I AM ALWAYS UNDERESTIMATED, PAID LITTLE ATTENTION TO AND LEFT ALONE. SMART HAS NOT BEEN A WORD OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE ME, BUT I AM SMARTER THAN SOME OF THE GIFTED KIDS IN SCHOOL EXCEPT THOSE OTHER AUTISTIC STUDENTS WHO ARE ALWAYS HAVING MANY BE RUDE TO THEM.
FINDING A WAY TO GIVE THESE OTHER AUTISTICS A VOICE IS SO IMPORTANT. CAN YOU HEAR THE COMMENTS OF PEOPLE AROUND THEM AND CAN YOU HEAR NASTY COMMENTS BEING MADE ABOUT THEIR INTELLIGENCE AND THEIR BODIES? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY IN YOUR DEFENSE WHEN YOU HAVE NO WORDS? THIS IS WHY RPM HAS BEEN A LIFESAVER. WITHOUT IT I WOULD STILL BE SILENT. THIS IS REALLY AWFUL TO CONSIDER. MANY THINK I AM STUPID AND RETARDED. HAVE YOU HELPED OTHERS UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT TRUE? PLEASE LEARN TO THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN PERCEPTIONS . TAKE A HARD LOOK. IF YOU MAKE JUDGEMENTS ABOUT PEOPLE LIKE ME THEN YOU NEED TO DARE YOURSELF TO LISTEN AND LEARN.
DARING TO KEEP MY SPIRITS HIGH HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE AND APPEARS TO HAVE WORKED. ALL OTHER ATTEMPTS TO HELP ME COMMUNICATE DID NOT GET RESULTS PARTLY BECAUSE NO ONE TRIED TO TRULY UNDERSTAND MY CARELESS BODY. MY CARELESS BODY IS LIKE A PRISON IN WHICH I AM KIND OF TRAPPED. FINDING RPM HAS BEEN THE CATALYST FOR CHANGE. FINDING RPM HAS ALREADY MADE MY LIFE SO MUCH BETTER BECAUSE I AM ALLOWED TO HAVE A VOICE. FINDING RPM HAS SET ME FREE.
LEARNING RPM WAS A DREAM COME TRUE. I WAS ALWAYS HOPING FOR AUTISM TO NOT HOLD ME DOWN IN THE MANY WAYS IT HAD BEEN DOING. ALWAYS HAVING NO VOICE FELT LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. HAVING THE AMAZING OPPORTUNITY TO SEE SOMA KEPT ME CLIMBING.
MANY KINDS OF THE FINDINGS OF THE SO CALLED EXPERTS ARE OUT OF DATE AND WRONG. FOR EXAMPLE MASSIVE RESEARCH EFFORTS FOCUS ON THE LEARNING OF THE AUTISTIC BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT AUTISTICS ARE NOT ABLE TO LEARN IN THE SAME WAY AS OTHERS. HAVE THEY FOUND PEOPLE WHO GET HELP TO LEARN AND WANT TO LEARN IN A PHYSICS CLASS AT MIT LIKE I DO? AUTISTICS ARE ONLY GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REALLY LARGE FINDINGS KNOWN WHEN THEIR LIFE LETS THE DOOR OPEN TO COMMUNICATION. LIVING MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO LEARN AND TAKE IN INFORMATION. MANY REALLY IGNORE THIS SIMPLE FACT AND THINK THAT NOT SPEAKING MEANS NOT THINKING. GETTING ACCESS TO RPM GIVES AUTISTICS HOPE FOR THEIR FUTURE. MY FUTURE IS MASSIVELY BRIGHT RIGHT NOW. LIVING WITH AUTISM IS NEVER EASY BUT MANY AUTISTICS MUST HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR VOICE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. FIND A WAY TO MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR THOSE NON SPEAKING AUTISTICS IN YOUR LIFE.