When non-speaking autistics are given tools and choices for ways to communicate, to express themselves, they are empowered to become the authors of their own narratives.
In doing so, the power to own someone else’s story and control the autonomy of non-speakers is removed from institutions, systems, and individuals. Because of this, corporations, “charities,” and self-interested individuals are waging a war on non-speaking autistics.
One such measure of erasure and silencing is the vandalism and deletion of articles on Wikipedia.org of non-speaking autistics who have used, learned via, or advocated in support of facilitated communication or rapid prompting method.
So, The Aspergian will be publishing the deleted Wikipedia articles here, with updated links and sources. This is our resistance. Now, when people search for the names of non-speakers, they will find those pages on an autistic-run advocacy and information source.
The saboteurs and manipulators of truth and information have sent the pages they’ve spent years vandalizing to an autistic-run advocacy site. And, we will send traffic to those people whose voices the world has tried to erase.
One of the first pages to be removed was Amy Sequenzia’s, whose inspiring and powerful work can be read on her blog by clicking here. And in the spirit of her advocacy and activism, we resist.
My resistance is an act of defiance.
I defy the assumptions of an unlivable life
Of a tragic existence
Of dreams that would never become true.
The world said I wouldn’t
– I defied.
The world said I couldn’t
– I defied.
The world says that I won’t, that I can’t
– I resist.
I defied the expectations, and I kept existing.
I defied assumptions, and I celebrate my existence.
I resist the ones who insist on erasing my existence.
I defy the ones who deny me respect.
My existence is an act of defiance.
To exist in this world is to resist.
-A poem by Amy Sequenzia entitled, “I Resist,” which can be read on her website by clicking here.
Amy Sequenzia is an American non-speaking autistic writer and activist. In addition to being autistic, Sequenzia has cerebral palsy,epilepsy, and dyspraxia. Sequenzia is also a synesthete who experiences chromesthesia, or sound-to-color synesthesia.
Sequenzia was born in Miami and was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. When she was eight, she participated in a study of facilitated communication conducted by Syracuse University. She initially learned to communicate by pointing to a letterboard with arm support. At the time, she had been living in an institution, and the first thing she did was to ask her parents to bring her home.
Sequenzia moved to St. Louis for a better special education program at eleven years old and grew up in a community group home. In 2005, Sequenzia moved back to Florida and continues to live there with friends.
Sequenzia is an editor and contributor to Typed Words, Loud Voices, an anthology about typing to communicate. She has also written a book of poetry called My Voice: Autism, Life and Dreams. She contributes to the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network and Ollibean.com. A collection of her articles and other written work can be found at her blog, “Nonspeaking Autistic Speaking.”
Sequenzia is a board member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She has served on the board of directors at the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) and Autism National Committee (AutCom). Sequenzia gave a speech to the Florida Legislature on issues relating to health and people with disabilities. She has also presented at several conferences in the United States and abroad, including the “Reclaiming our Bodies and Minds” conference at Ryerson University in Toronto. In speaking panels, she uses a special iPad that “speaks” for her.
Sequenzia is an advocate for human rights, particularly the rights of disabled people, and has criticized behavioural therapy, advising parents not to attempt to “fix” their children. She believes that autism is an inseparable part of her personhood and opposes a cure for autism. She supports the right to communication choice for disabled people.
Sequenzia uses identity-first language. She opposes the use of functioning labels, saying that labelling individuals by what they cannot do causes unfair and prejudicial judgement by others. She has also criticized Temple Grandin for only focusing on autistics who appear “high-functioning.”
- Bakan, Michael B. (2018). Speaking for Ourselves: Conversations on Life, Music, and Autism. Oxford University Press. pp. 201–216. ISBN 9780190855833 – via Oxford Scholarship.
- Schuman, Rebecca (October 19, 2016). “Why ABC’s Speechless feels like such a revolutionary depiction of disabled people”. Slate. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Zurcher, Ariane (November 9, 2012). “An Interview With Amy Sequenzia, a Non-Speaking Autistic Writer and poet”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
- Bakan 2018, p. 207.
- Bakan 2018, p. 204-205.
- Corona, Laura (July 29, 2010). “CATA Poets Speak Their Minds Tonight”. North Adams Transcript. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Sequenzia, Amy; Elizabeth J., Grace; Yergeau, Melanie (2015). Typed Words, Loud Voices. Autonomous Press. ISBN 978-0-9861835-2-2.
- “Amy Sequenzia”. Autism Women’s Network. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- “About Amy Sequenzia”. Ollibean. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- “Leadership.” Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- “Board Members”. Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- Berman, Dave (December 13, 2012). “Range of Issues Discussed”. Florida Today. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Horel, Julia (March 1, 2012). “Reclaiming Our Bodies and Minds: Disability, Oppression, Action! Conference 2012.” Shameless. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- Bakan 2018, p. 216.
- Parker, Sydney (March 20, 2015). “Autism: does ABA therapy open society’s doors to children, or impose conformity?”. The Guardian. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
- Korkiakangas, Terhi (May 30, 2018). Communication, Gaze and Autism: A Multimodal Interaction Perspective. Routledge. ISBN 9781317221258.
- Perry, David M. (October 9, 2015). “Fix the Charity That Wants To ‘Fix’ Autism”. Al Jazeera America. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
- Perry, David; Picciuto, Elizabeth (August 29, 2016). “Disability rights and reproductive rights don’t have to be in conflict”. LA Times. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Perry, David M (December 29, 2018). “Your child is not a prop”. The Week. December 29, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Sequenzia, Amy. “My Right to Communicate Does Not Depend on Your Bigotry.” Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- Sequenzia, Amy. “More Problems with Functioning Labels.” Ollibean.com. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- Sequenzia, Amy. “When Autistics Grade Other Autistics.” Ollibean.com. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
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