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Autistic Perspective Series: Communication




A Mind Tree - Tito Mukhopadhyay

The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida

Ido in Autismland - Ido Kedar



AAC: AAC is short for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It is a term used to describe various tools and strategies that help people who have difficulty speaking using their voice. Communication devices, systems, strategies and tools that replace or support natural speech are known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC may be used some of the time or all of the time, and it may be used in all or only some contexts. - blended definition from,, and Lance McLemore


Nonspeaker: a person who cannot use speech in a reliable or fluent way and includes people with no speech, those with minimal speech, and those with unreliable speech. - Neuroclastic


Multimodal Communicator: Someone who uses different modes of communication, some speech-centric and others not, such as written English, AAC devices, text-to-speech software, American Sign Language (ASL), manual signs, photos, Protactile, - DJ Savarese

High Tech AAC: An electronic computer-based AAC system with voice output that can be either dedicated (e.g., only used for communication) or computer-based (e.g., laptop computer, iPad, Tablets). - AAC Language Lab

Mid Tech AAC: Equipment that has an electronic component but not a full computer, such as a button or grid of buttons that can be recorded with messages. - AAC Language Lab

Low Tech AAC: An object or paper AAC system designed for communication, such as a manual communication board or Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). - AAC Language Lab

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Lance McLemore (he/him)

Lance McLemore has been using AAC for about 12 years. He got his first high tech communication aid whilst in university. Since getting access to AAC, his world has greatly expanded. His current language system is LAMP Words for Life on an Accent 1000, which he received in 2016.

He graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a BA in studio art and philosophy. He still makes art in various media: drawing, painting, and fiber art. 


​He currently works as an ambassador for the Prentke Romich Company and the Center for AAC and Autism. He attends AAC camps, workshops, conferences, schools, and universities to talk about and advocate for greater use and acceptance of AAC. His most important message is to remind people that the purpose of AAC is to make it easier to form relationships and increase inclusion in all spheres of life.


Elizabeth Bonker (she/her)

Elizabeth Bonker is the Executive Director of Communication 4 ALL, a nonprofit with the mission to gain communication for the estimated 31 million non-speakers with autism worldwide. Elizabeth learned to type on a letterboard at age five. Soon after, she began writing poems that were published in I Am in Here. In 2022, Elizabeth wrote the lyrics for an I Am in Here album with the music by The Bleeding Hearts. Her decade of advocacy work has included a PBS feature, a TEDMED Talk at the Kennedy Center, and bipartisan support for communication equality on Capitol Hill. 

In May 2022, Elizabeth graduated as a Valedictorian from the Honors Program at Rollins College. Her Commencement Address went viral with more than 4 billion media impressions creating visibility and momentum for the mission. Communication 4 ALL’s strategic initiatives include C4A Schools to start typing programs for nonspeakers in schools and C4A Academy to provide free online instructional videos for families without the resources to pay for private lessons. Elizabeth is a member of Autism Society’s Council of Advisors and Justice Center Task Force.

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Danny Whitty (he/him)

Danny Whitty is a nonspeaking autistic poet, writer, advocate, and friend. He uses Spelling to Communicate, and is absolutely enthralled by his new chapter of life with communication. He is an ardent fan of the art of words. And he enjoys the ocean, travel, cooking, and building community. His writing has been published in Bon Appetit Magazine, a part of the books Underestimated and I Will Die On This Hill, and various blogs, as well as his poetry chapbook Waves and Wind and We. You can learn more at and on Instagram (@dannywithwords) and Facebook (Danny With Words)!


Kaishawna (she/they)

Hello there. My name is Kaishawna and I'm an African-American Deaf Low Vision Autistic Black woman who is 21, uses AAC, sign language and sometimes unreliable vocal speech to communicate, strongly advocates for disability rights and attends college to study to become a teacher to disabled students and also teach non-disabled individuals. 

David James "DJ" Savarese (he/him)

David James “DJ” Savarese (he/him) works to disrupt ableism as an artful activist, public speaker and scholar, multi-genre writer, and teacher. Co-Chair of The Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, he designed and directs the Lives-in-Progress Collective, a disability-led national, grassroots project focused on expanding and transforming self-direction. A 2022-23 Iowa Arts Fellow and Zoeglossia Fellow, he is the author of Swoon, Studies in Brotherly Love, and A Doorknob for the Eye. Co-producer, narrative commentator, and subject of the Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary film Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t Be a Lottery (2017), he teaches inclusive, multigenerational, global poetry writing classes through Listen2Us and poetry writing courses for alternatively communicating autistics through the LYNX Project in Chicago. An advocate for the communication and literacy-based educational rights of all students, he founded Listen2Us: Writing Our Own Futures as an Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative Community Youth Fellow. Before moving to Iowa City, DJ graduated with a double major in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Oberlin College in 2017. Relevant publications include the following: “Unearthing the Concepts that Bury Us” (forthcoming in Disability in Dialogue, John Benjamins Pub., 2023);  “Disrupting the Garden Wall” ; “Disrupting Ableism Through Artful Activism. ; “Coming to My Senses,” ; and  “Passive Plants”.

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Rocky Schulsinger (he/him)

I am an autistic adult that uses AAC and obtained a dual masters degree in special education and severe and multiple disabilities. I have worked for 23 years with kids with autism in New York, Florida, and Massachusetts.

I am an advocate for not having advocates speaking for others in the autistic community, which unfortunately happens way too much. Instead helping them learn different communication strategies to have each individuals voices heard and their experiences. Specifically focused on communication that promotes self advocacy. I have done various public speaking presentations for service providers that work with the autistic population to help them understand the importance of  giving age appropriate words and not limiting their ability to communicate.

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