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The First Tendrils of Communication

Photo © Shannon Des Roches Rosa [image: Orange and purple flowers among green leaves.] Cal Montgomery montgomerycal.wordpress.com twitter.com/Cal__Montgomery For Mel Baggs and Phil Smith, who knew, and know, communion with the wild places better than I can imagine. Do you remember how you learned to communicate? If you communicate pretty typically, odds are it wasn’t perfect, but it included something like: you reached out socially, and people reached back. You looked at them; they gazed adoringly back at you. You smiled; they smiled back and waved. “Hi, Baby! Hi! Oh, what a beautiful face!” You laughed; they reveled in your chortles and giggles and were silly in the hope that you would laugh again. You cried; they held you and comforted you and tried to figure out what was making you miserable. You called out at night; they pulled themselves out of exhausted slumber, scooped you up, and blearily cuddled…

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Why Doesn’t Respect for Communication Diversity Include Non-Speaking Autistic People?

Photo © Pier Paolo Tosetto | Flickr / Creative Commons [image: Photo of a young child wearing a white baseball cat crouching down and talking at a brown bunny.] Emily Paige Ballou chavisory.wordpress.com One day, when I was 15 or 16, I was making my way through the crowded halls of my high school as I did most days, wondering for nowhere near the first time in my life how it could possibly be that I felt so isolated and cut off from most of my peers. Even ones I considered friends, or generally got along well with. There was some quality of their relationships with each other that just wasn’t there when it came to me. Everybody seemed to know things I didn’t, all the time. And finally, that day, I thought, “It’s almost as if I’m blind and deaf.” Not in the literal sense of not being able…

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ASL for Autistics

Photo © MrTinDC | Flickr / Creative Commons  [image: Bronze sculpture of hands demonstrating American Sign Language, in the visitor center at Gallaudet University.] endever* corbin anotherqueerautistic.wordpress.com To preface: I am a hearing semiverbal autistic person who is studying American Sign Language (ASL) and using it as AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). I want to talk about why ASL can be useful for some hearing autistic people. (Of course, it’s widely useful by d/Deaf/HoH people, despite oralists’ discouragement of sign languages—destroy this philosophy for all!) However, before you consider my words please look into perspectives from actual d/Deaf people, whose experiences and culture should always be centered when discussing sign languages. Here are some links to start, and there’s a more thorough list at the bottom of this article. •Dr. Vicar’s ASL instructional videos •Rikki Poynter, deaf vlogger
 •Andrew Parsons, Deaf advocate —- I formally studied ASL as a teenager before I…

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Book Review: Communication Alternatives In Autism

[Image: Book cover with a background that is blue on the left and yellow on the right. A red bar in the upper center contains white text reading, “Communication Alternatives in Autism,” followed by smaller yellow text reading, “Perspectives on Typing and Spelling Approaches for the Nonspeaking.” Below, two hands hold a white tablet device with a keyboard visible and white text on black reading, “Hello my name is …” Below, red text reads, “Edited by Edlyn Vallejo Peña”] Communication Alternatives in Autism contains the perspectives of ten autistic self-advocates, who “share their experiences with alternative forms of communication. Their narratives document the complexities that autistic individuals navigate—in both educational and community settings—when choosing to use approaches that utilize letter boards and keyboards.” Review by Olympia Eleni Ellinas Autistic children and adults, around the world, are being treated as if they aren’t humans, as if they aren’t capable of sentient thought.…

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OK, So We have AAC: Now What?

Photo courtesy Miss A [image: An iPad screen with the app Speak for Yourself, and a list of animals in the message bar: banana, cookie, cat, dog…”] Miss A teachingunicorn.com Access to AAC—Augmentative and Alternative Communication for people with speech disabilities—is a fundamental human right, but it’s one still that tends to be forgotten and overlooked in many spaces today. And many people are just hearing about AAC, or gaining access to it for the first time. The first few steps in using AAC can feel overwhelming to families and professionals new to this journey, because it is essentially learning a new language. Many people have fears about “doing it right” and “doing it enough.” I promise that you can do AAC. You can do it. You must do it. And it will be worth every step. How? Get excited. It can be really easy for AAC to be seen as…