We are excited to share this poem by our friend and fellow advocate, Joel Nyland, that he contributed for the theme on “Advocating as a Nonspeaking Autistic.” Joel brings a powerful positive energy to his activities, including the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network and his presentations at Neurolyrical Cafe. This poem carries important messages from Joel’s own experiences, including presuming potential and competence beyond early childhood interventions, and references some of the major figures in the Rapid Prompting Method and Spelling to Communicate world. Thank you, Joel!

Never Too Late

by Joel Nyland

Too many therapists think that if I don’t learn by seven

I will never learn

ABA, 52 hours a week, will cure me, it is a sham

ABA should only be used on dogs

It is cruel to apraxics to do purposeful motor challenges 

Without a coach 

I know.

I was told to catch a ball for years

Without being taught how to hold my hands out in front of me

The ball hit me in the face every time.

My body needs a coach 

My brain does not do this job

A coach who understands and does not judge

I am in here 

I am thinking 

I am hearing everything no matter the language

Japanese is my favorite 

From when I was an infant 

I am smart

I am intelligent 

Believe in me 

I can learn anything if you believe in me

It is never too late

S2C is the door to my soul

I am thankful to Soma, Tito, and EV.

They thought outside the box

And acted on their beliefs

They are our Elon Musk 

Of the Spellerverse

I want all nonspeakers to know it is never too late

Parents need to believe in themselves 

And their children

Recited here by Brian Laidlaw of Unrestricted Interest:

About Joel Nyland

Joel shares: “I am a twenty one year old dancer and songwriter… I am proud to use a letterboard to communicate.” Joel has spelled to advocate that nonspeaking people need to be recognized as intelligent human beings. Joel’s words and actions remind others to be kind and useful. A daily advocate for the spelling community, Joel is a “Spellebrity Ambassador” for the International Association for Spelling as Communication (I-ASC). He has performed his original songs in the Neurolyrical Café and at Boards & Chords. His first full album Presume Competency featuring Joel’s songs with contributions by Caden Rainey is available on Amazon Music and iTunes. He is also a leader for the Adaptive Dance program at Creative Dance Center.

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