This I Believe

Amy - Southwest Ranches, Florida
Entered on September 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage

I am non-verbal autistic. I communicate by typing on a keyboard or a letter board. It is called Facilitated Communication and it is a hard way to have my voice heard.

Because I need the support of another person’s hand, some people think I am not doing anything, that the facilitator is the one really typing. This thoughts, when said out loud are hurtful.

I believe everybody has the right to be heard. My way, my voice, comes out in letters on a screen or through someone else’s voice, this person spelling out the letters as I point to them. I need this kind of support to help me stabilize my arm and keep me focused.

When I was a little girl I heard people calling me names, talking about me as if I wasn’t there. They used the word retarded a lot. This still happens sometimes. It is hard not to be able to respond immediately. I told my mother once when I was little. We were both very sad but I never gave up. Today I have friends who are always with me and they make sure I can communicate when I want.

One day I will be able to type independently because I believe in myself.

It is too frustrating when I have to prove myself all the time. This is my way of voicing my thoughts right now. Because of my belief on people’s right to be heard I keep working on my independent typing. When I no longer need support I can tell the ones who doubt my assisted typing that my voice was always there.

We are all different and communicate in different ways. Nobody likes to be ignored or having his or her opinions discarded because the communication of choice is not conventional.

I know many other people who carry a label of disability but have a lot to say. Some cannot initiate conversation. They still have the right to be heard. I keep typing my thoughts because that’s my right and my choice.

I can write poems and I like to write about friends and life. I write about my thoughts, my life and my difficulties as a developmentally disabled person. Through my poems I can show my style and have my voice printed out. I can let all those who care get to know me.

I am thankful that I have found this ability inside of me. The right to be heard is taken for granted when the means of communication are the ones people are accustomed to. My way is unique. I have a voice and I will fight for the right to be heard the only way I know: by typing. Others will follow.

Being developmentally disabled does not mean not having intelligence. I am an intelligent person. I can be heard by the ones who know me. I want to be heard by everyone else. This is only possible if my rights are respected like the rights of people called normal. When I become independent on my typing I will continue to fight for those who use Facilitated Communication to have the right to be heard and make choices. That’s how it all started for me

We all have a voice. We all have rights.