Essays May 2022: Advocating as Nonspeaking Autistics Top Stories

United We Spell – by Sarah Ackerman

We are happy to share this piece contributed by Sarah Ackerman, another one of my friends and peers from Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network (for which she is the current Featured Member of the Month)! She has written various pieces for I-ASC, including her superhero story, “A Hard Tomorrow,” in which she was inspired to “create a female superhero in a male-centered subject.”

I always appreciate her gentle but firm approach in her advocacy, and I also am aware of the reality that she is always outnumbered by the male advocates in our group, and though there are amazing women Speller advocates being heard, we need to ensure that more women’s voices are being shared and amplified in our community!

United We Spell

Sarah Ackerman

I am a woman who spells to speak. My speech is minimal and unreliable.  I am referred to as a nonspeaker.

I am an advocate for those without a voice.  I want to represent nonspeakers who are trapped in silence and give them an effective method of genuine communication. 

I am a female in a male- dominated disability.  I am in the minority, and I want to be heard.  The words of my fellow female advocates are beginning to get recognized.  We are sharing and supporting each other.

There is power in numbers.  We need to work together with all our friends to make a difference.  We may look different on the outside, but our hearts and minds are in the same place.  We want to make life better for nonspeakers.

Our voices are amplified when we are united.  We can bring about change when we collaborate.  United we spell.  United we stand.  United we are strong!

About Sarah Ackerman

Sarah Ackerman is a 27-year-old nonspeaker with autism and apraxia who has been Spelling to Communicate for five years.  She is an advocate for her fellow nonspeakers as a member of the International Association for Spelling as Communication (I-ASC) Spellers and Allies Advocacy Network as well as Spellers Empowering Education for Nonspeakers (SEEN).  Sarah has contributed to articles, blogs, panel discussions, and webinars to ensure nonspeakers are represented and have access to effective communication.   Sarah has a passion for books and being immersed in discussions. Many of her projects center around empowering autistics and women. Sarah cares deeply about nonspeakers and hopes to help others find and express their voices.

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