Would you believe that I am a nonspeaking autistic?
That for over 30 years, I was unable to communicate my true thoughts? It is a sad and tragic story, but it is full of light. My life has moved toward hope since I learned to spell to communicate. My ability to share my ideas and feelings has exploded into brilliant galaxies!
I am a 37 year old autistic and apraxic man. This means I have trouble coordinating between my brain and body. This means I am overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. This means I have been overlooked by schools and society.
This also means I have a glorious world in my mind!
As a neurodivergent, immigrant, half Asian person, I identify with marginalized groups. That is my inspiration to spread awareness and empathy. I am also still mourning the death of my beloved father. His loss in 2018 drives my current reflections on grief and love, and my desire to further explore our Irish heritage.
With that said, I relish fun and bizarre humor, writing, exploring the culinary world, roaming in nature (especially the ocean), traveling, and connecting with people.
My regular advocacy work is through my Danny With Words social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram, and Leo in Bloom Magazine, centered on sharing perspectives and experiences of nonspeaking autistics! I recently retired The Ocean & Us Podcast, for which I was the creator and co-host.
I am also an advocate with the Spellers & Allies Advocacy Network, a member of the Nonspeaking Leadership Council for International Association for Spelling as Communication (I-ASC), a board member for Teva Community, and a member of the advisory board for The Ohana Consortium. I have acted as an advisor for the educational guides for The Reason I Jump film, and also contributed to the NeuroClastic Music Media Toolkit and the ACES Talking with Doctors project.
I am an avid writer and poet, guided by my poetry mentor Brian Laidlaw, and regularly share my poetry at the monthly Neurolyrical Cafes hosted by Unrestricted Interest and I-ASC. My writings have been published in Bon Appetit Magazine, OpenTable’s blog, Eat Club Magazine, and the Art of Autism. It is amazing to look back at this excerpt from my original bio for this website, written in 2020: “I am hoping to be a published writer one day. I also would love to make more friends. Writing is my passion, and I am happy to share it with you!” Now, I am exploring art, guided by my art mentor Shay Sampson.
How I communicate
I mainly communicate by Spelling to Communicate on letterboard or keyboard with my CRP (Communication Regulation Partner), who is my older sister. She is a true ally! My younger sister is also a fluent CRP with me, and I am working toward letterboard fluency with my wonderful mom. We are guided by the wonderful Dawnmarie Gaivin at Transcending Autism & Apraxia as well as Johnny Perez, Erin Clarelli (Sunrise Therapies), Michelle Hardy, Bryana Williams, and Debbie Spengler.
My first introduction to Spelling was with the fabulous Elizabeth Vosseller. It was the most amazing experience! Learn more about Spelling to Communicate (S2C) at I-ASC.