Staten Island Real-Time News (New York)

Nineteen-year-old autistic Staten Island resident Nicholas D’Amora communicates with a QWERTY letterboard.

“‘It has to be at their appropriate level; you have to assume competence, but this is just a teaching method. The communication is later on. It takes time, patience, persistence, and trust on their part to know that you are confident and you believe in them,’ Cannella said. In Nicholas’ case, Cannella holds a board with a QWERTY keyboard printed on it and spells words by pointing to each letter…. Barbara and Nicholas were taught in 2010, and after learning — and struggling — for almost two years, Nicholas reached the point of open-ended communication and has been “fluent” for nearly five years.”

Link to story and video (2:34):

The Oregonian YouTube channel

Seventeen year-old Niko Boskovic wins United Nations Educational Pilgrimage for Youth essay contest sponsored by the Odd Fellows Lodge. Odd Fellows withdraws the award after learning he has autism. Niko communicates by pointing to letters on a laminated letterboard.

“Niko’s reliance on the letterboard is no different than a person who is deaf relying on a sign language interpreter on a tour, or a person who is blind needing a seeing eye dog,” said Gordon C. Magella, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon.

Link to video (2:31) (open captions):

KPTV Fox12 (Oregon)

Portland, Oregon Fox-TV-affiliate story about 17-year-old Niko Boskovic winning United Nations Educational Pilgrimage for Youth essay contest sponsored by the Odd Fellows Lodge but then being denied the ‘prize’ of a trip to the UN. Other Oregon-based Odd Fellows Lodges voice support for Niko, some voting to boycott future contests until anti-discrimination policies are in place.

“They said that both in the written [portion] and the interview, which he did using the letter board, that he was a clear winner out of everyone,” said David Scheer, the secretary at the Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge in north Portland.

Link to story and video (2:33):

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Georgia)

Story by Atlanta parent Alison Auerbach who started The Connections School of Atlanta for students with autism to enable its graduates to seamlessly matriculate to and graduate from high school.

“These students, speaking and nonspeaking, will likely have to fight to be heard and understood for most of their adult lives. They’ll be stronger if they fight together, regardless of how they communicate. They need each other. And, I realize, they need a school where they can strengthen their individual and group voices as they learn,” said Alison Auerbach, founder of The Connections School of Atlanta. “Our teachers strive every day to help our students find and use their voices. Today the students learned they have the right to have a say on a national level — no matter what tools they use to say it.”


The (Ireland)

Sixteen-year-old Dublin, Ireland resident Fiacre Ryan describes what his daily life as an autistic is like and how Rapid Prompting Method has given him a way to fully express his thoughts and feelings.

“I am verifying people with autism when I write my thoughts. Each time the door opens on a new day I am doubted, but each day I prove my Einstein mind to everyone and yet they stop me using this intellect. Respect those who speak silent words, who have thoughts lost in their minds, and show them what each one sees as we tell our story.”


The Connection Newspapers (Virginia)

Members of The Tribe, a group of young adult nonspeaking autistics from the Washington, D.C. area, participate in a University of Virginia seminar on autism, and meet with state and local politicians.

“Gaining a fellowship, Jaswal created the seminar, ‘The Science & Lived Experience of Autism.’ It put 20 UVa students ‘on the front lines’ as Jaswal said, to examine studies in autism and work with stakeholders to create questions that reflect the interests of the autistic community. Jaswal included nonspeaking autistic peers along with his UVa students in the seminars. The autistics participated not as research subjects but were asked for meaningful comments on class readings, what was important in their lives, and input for study and advocacy program designs.”


Link to video (3:31):

Ventura County Reporter (California)

Diego Peña, author of Anatomy of Autism: A Pocket Guide for Educators, Parents, and Students, shares how autism impacts his daily life as well as his plans to be a self-advocate. Diego is included in a general education class at his elementary school in Ventura County, California, where he has received very positive support.

“Autism controls the body,” Diego wrote. “Autism lives in the brain, which makes us act differently, but don’t confuse that with intelligence. I am strangled by my motor system and experience raw impulsivity. It’s hard to wake up knowing that every day is hard, but I love to fight for success!” he relayed. “Life with autism has taught me love and compassion towards everyone.”


The Independent (California)

Matteo Musso and his mother Annette of Livermore, California, share their journey with Rapid Prompting Method (RPM) and the homeschooling courses he is taking, including calculus, creative writing, art, math and science.

Referring to his participation in the Boy Scouts, Matteo typed, “It is the best social and adventure learning I’ve had the pleasure of participating in in my entire life.” He added, “I love to learn about anything. I have not been intellectually stimulated until RPM.”