Editor’s Note: Anti-autistic Wikipedia editors have long been vandalizing and rewriting the narrative around autism and neurodiversity, with the most aggressive editing directed at non-speaking autistics.
As a result, many of their pages have been deleted. The Aspergian, in an act of purposeful protest, is reposting the articles which have been removed. We have added links to the author’s and organization’s personal sites, and encourage all autistics and allies to read more from non-speaking autistics. Click here for other articles deleted from Wikipedia or to read about efforts to silence autistics.
Special thanks to Ren Everett for taking the lead on this project, to Malnormalulo for volunteering to help with non-speaking autistic advocacy, and to Tito and Soma Mukhopadhyay for their inspiration and working so hard to empower non-speaking autistics.
Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay (born 1989 in India) was diagnosed in early childhood with severe or low-functioning non-verbal autism. He first came to the attention of the West through autism researcher Richard Mills, who met Tito in Bangalore, India and arranged for him to travel to the UK to be assessed by his colleagues at the National Autistic Society and Lorna Wing. At the same time the BBC made the documentary, Tito’s Story (2000), and the National Autistic Society published his first book, Beyond the Silence (2000). He provides insights into the nature of his autism, according to Autism Speaks, the former Cure Autism Now, and scientists who studied his case, such as Michael Merzenich.
Featured in the BBC documentary ‘Tito’s Story’ 1999 which won the Emma Award, UK Came to USA 2000 on invitation by Cure Autism Now Foundation 2000 to participate in Scientific research. Featured in 60 minutes, Good Morning America, National Geographic Magazine, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Telegraph ( UK ), India Today, HBO Documentary ‘A Mother’s Courage’, and CNN.
Tito’s mother, Soma, taught him reading and writing. Cure Autism Now (now merged with Autism Speaks) sponsored Tito and his mother to travel to the United States so she could teach them her method, called the Rapid Prompting Method.Tito’s first book, Beyond the Silence: My Life, The World and Autism, a collection of prose, poetry and philosophical texts, was published in 2000. In the book, he reflects on how being autistic affects his view of the world.
Tito has been featured on 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, Disability Studies Quarterly, the National Geographic Magazine, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Telegraph (UK), India Today, the HBO Documentary, A Mother’s Courage, and on CNN.
Tito was born in India and raised there by his mother Soma Mukhopadhyay. His father lived and worked in another city, visiting occasionally. When Tito was 18 months old, his mother noticed that he was not responding socially as other toddlers were. He did not make eye contact as expected, he distanced himself from social settings, and he did not talk.
Beginning when he was about 2 1/2 years old, Soma began intensively teaching him basic motor skills, such as pointing, by physically moving his limbs through the motions herself until he learned the movements. After his autism diagnosis at age 3, she decided to continue educating him “using methods she would make up as she went along.”
Soma noticed that her son had a good memory with roads and room layouts and would make complex patterns with match sticks. She started trying to teach him to recognize numbers and letters on an alphabet board, then moved on to teaching him to draw them. When he could not hold a pencil, she would secure one to his hand with a rubber band. Soma also read classic works of English fiction to him, and since he began writing on his own at age 6, has urged him to write stories himself.
From Scientific American journalist, Madhusree Mukerjee, Soma “observes him with profound intensity and snaps her fingers the moment Tito’s thoughts stray–which is all the time during my visit. He seems to be beset by random neural firings. If she didn’t intervene, Soma explains, he would write words from a different sentence in the middle of the one he already started.”
In 1999, when Tito was 11, he and Soma visited the National Autistic Society‘s Centre for Social and Communication Disorders. Researchers spoke with him, and observed him spelling out responses with a letter board independently. He was assessed on the British Picture Vocabulary Scale, a test in which he had to point to one of four pictures to correctly identify the meaning of a word. Tito’s score put him on par with 19-year-olds.
In the time since, Tito has continued to write every day. In his words, “I need to write. It has become a part of me.”
Tito continues to write daily, preferring to use handwriting over typing as a mode of communication. His interests include literature and philosophy, and he credits Dr. Ralph Savarese (literature) and Dr. Erin Manning (philosophy) as being inspirational mentors. He is an active Facebook user and responds to daily inquiries about autism, philosophy, and literature.
Misfit: A Poem by Tito Mukhopadhyay (2010)
There was the earth, turning and turning.
The stars receded, as if
Finding no wrong with anything.
Birds flew by all morning—
The sky lit
From the earth’s turning and turning.
My hands, as usual, were flapping.
The birds knew I was Autistic;
They found no wrong with anything.
Men and women stared at my nodding;
They labeled me a Misfit
(A Misfit turning and turning).
And then I was the wind, blowing.
Did anyone see my trick?
I found no wrong with anything.
Somewhere a wish was rising,
Perhaps from between my laughing lips.
Why stop turning and turning
When right can be found with everything?
Poem retrieved from Disability Studies Quarterly
- Plankton Dreams (2015)
- I’m Not a Poet but I Write Poetry (2012)
- How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move? (2011)
- The Gold of the Sunbeams: And Other Stories (2005)
- The Mind Tree (2003)
- Beyond the Silence: My Life, the World and Autism (2000)
- “Boy Sheds Light on Autism Mysteries”. ABC News. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
- “Breaking The Silence, One Woman’s Drive To Teach Her Autistic Son – CBS News”. CBS News. 2003-01-14. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
- “Autism Speaks, Get Involved, In the News”. Autism Speaks. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
- Sandra Blakeslee (November 19, 2002). “A Boy, a Mother And a Rare Map Of Autism’s World – New York Times”. New York Times. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
- Mukerjee, Madhusree (2004). “A Transparent Enigma”. Scientific American: 49–50.
- Wing, Lorna. “Mind Tree Poems”. Online Extra. National Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 26 July 2017.