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10 Videos That Tell the Stories of People Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

The use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for those who cannot rely on speech to be understood has been around for one hundred years. Yet, there still is confusion about what it really is. And according to CommunicationFIRST:

the 5 million people in the United States with speech-related communication disabilities and conditions continue to face low expectations, outright prejudice, and isolation. [They] have the highest rates of segregation, restraint, seclusion, and abuse of any demographic group.

The following videos tell the stories of people who use AAC. Some are 5-minute videos, others are short films, and there are even some full-length documentaries. Take some time to peruse this list and find one or two that you haven't seen yet. And make sure to share them with your friends, family, and colleagues.


All descriptions are those that are provided by the author of the video.


LISTEN Movie

A short film in which nonspeaking autistic people talk about how nonspeakers are represented in books, theatre, and film. They provide guidance for changing the narrative. Learn more and access transcripts, translations, and a toolkit here: https://communicationfirst.org/LISTEN/


Here’s how it began:


On December 24, 2020, the musician Sia publicly offered to fund CommunicationFIRST to make an introductory short to her new movie MUSIC. The short was intended to help humanize and spread awareness about real nonspeaking autistic people, who were left out of MUSIC, despite being the subject of the movie.


In response to this offer, a team of nonspeaking and autistic people brought together by CommunicationFIRST in January 2021 previewed MUSIC in a special closed screening arranged by Sia’s management, and provided feedback and recommendations to Sia on how to improve it.


However, they received no further response from Sia’s team.


In early February 2021, CommunicationFIRST decided to move forward to produce a self-funded short by and with real nonspeaking autistic people, and to launch it on February 12, 2021, the release date for MUSIC in the US.


The film LISTEN is the result.


Dan Bergmann: The End of Intellectual Disability? Lessons from Nonspeaking Autism

Harvard Extension School Alumni Association

Saturday Symposium May 21, 2022


The End of Intellectual Disability?

Lessons from Nonspeaking Autism


Dan Bergmann

ALB cum laude, 2021


The Reason I Jump - Official Trailer

Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world. The film blends Higashida's revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe.


Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. The film distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say.


More from Madman Films: http://www.madmanfilms.com.au

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Chammi- Hear Me Now (A Film Poem)

Only recently, have people with autism/apraxia been able to share their thoughts with the outer world. "Just try keeping your mouth shut for a day," Chammi typed. "Try keeping your mouth shut while they talk about you, telling your mother to put you away in an institution. You want to scream, "No, no, no, but you are mute. Fortunately, a determined mom searched the world over until she found a way that my voice could be as loud as yours."


Jordyn's Rocky Journey: Amazing Visions of an Autistic Boy

Unable to control his body and emotions, Jordyn's autistic world is also filled with unseen beauty. This documentary chronicles the dichotomy between Jordyn's external behavior and his internal visions.


Adapted Spiral Praxis is a bodymind approach to help children with special needs and disability learn how to heal, integrate and express through their bodies. For more information, or for our upcoming workshops and family intensives, visit www.spiralpraxis.com or www.adaptedspiralpraxis.com.


Autism Is A World

Susan, autistic, [nonspeaking], recounts her thoughts, her way of life...and how she is integrated into the university. A testimony that demonstrates the importance of learning to communicate and that [nonspeaking] is not synonymous with [intellecual disability].


The description has been translated from Swedish to English.


This Is Not About Me

What is it like to be autistic and non-speaking in a world that has already made up its mind about you? "This Is Not About Me" tells the story of Jordyn Zimmerman. Jordyn dreamt of becoming a teacher. She started out eager to learn at school, but she was soon separated from the other children. Unable to communicate, teachers thought she was also unable to understand or learn. Year after year, her behavior worsened. She was restrained and placed in seclusion. Jordyn found herself caught in a system that unintentionally turned her life into a living nightmare. Finally, at the age of 18, with the help of educators who see her differently, she manages to turn her fate and flourish.


Watch the story of one autistic woman that fought hard to be recognized and trusted. Share the trailer to bring awareness and change the lives of countless others fighting that same system today.


This film includes conversations about and references to restraint and topics such as disability-based discrimination and harassment. We acknowledge that this content may be difficult to view, so we encourage you to prepare emotionally before proceeding. Take care of your safety and well-being.


If purchasing the movie for someone other than yourself, please share this message with them.


All proceeds from the film will support the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), CommunicationFIRST, and Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism to support them in their missions.


DEEJ (with Subtitles)

DJ Savarese ("Deej") is a nonspeaking young man with autism who communicates with others via text-to-voice synthesizer. In DEEJ, he tells his own story, via documentary and poetry, with director Robert Rooy. DEEJ refreshingly avoids the trap of speaking for a person with autism; instead, the viewer hears Deej's own thoughts and feelings as he navigates high school and seeks admission into Oberlin College as the institution's first nonspeaking autistic student.


DEEJ takes several masterful steps forward in inclusive filmmaking. Filmed over six years, the film enjoys remarkable access but avoids brash intrusion precisely by allowing Deej himself to dictate the terms of engagement. It demonstrates how documentary engagement with autism can show its subject's brilliance and accomplishment rather than dwelling on limits and barriers.


***WINNER, 2018 PEABODY AWARD AND NOMINEE, 2018 EMMY AWARD***


My Story by Gregory C Tino

I am a nonspeaking person with autism and apraxia whose life was changed with Spelling To Communicate. This is my story, written by me, using my letterboard. Autistic people are smarter than you think.


For more information about Spelling To Communicate (S2C) visit I-ASC at https://i-asc.org and Inside Voice at https://www.aalive.org/about-inside-voice

To follow my blog visit https://inautism.wordpress.com and my book The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks is available here https://www.amazon.com/Autistic-Mind-Finally-Speaks-Letterboard/dp/B08LJN18BY


Wretches & Jabberers

Powerful documentary chronicles the world travels of disability rights advocates, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, in a bold quest to change attitudes about the intelligence and abilities of people with autism. A road trip filled with humor and insight takes viewers to Sri Lanka, Japan, Finland and the U.S. Story told by autistics in each country, a work of poetry and vision. Another great film by Academy Award(R) director Gerardine Wurzburg.


They visit in Japan, teenager Naoki Higashida (author of best seller "The Reason I Jump"), in Sri Lanka, poet Chandi Rajapatirana, and in Finland, twenty-somethings Antti Lappalainen and Henna Laulainen.


Sound track by J. Ralph featuring: Antony, Devendra Banhart, Paul Brady, Bonnie Bramlett, Vashti Bunyan, Martin Carthy, Judy Collins, Lila Downs, Vincent Gallo, David Garza, Ben Harper, Scarlett Johannson, Nic Jones, Norah Jones, Leah Siegel, Carly Simon, Stephen Stills, Ben Taylor and Bob Weir.


Official Selection of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, Vermont International FIlm Festival, Sprout Film Festival, Syracuse International Film Festival, VI Moscow Disability Film Festival, Perspektiva Disability Film Festival , Tampa Film Festival, The Thessaloniki International Film Festival, The Other Film Festival (Melbourne, Australia), Casa Comal – XVIII Festival (Guatemala 2015), EOP! Belgium 2015 and others.

 

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Tim Villegas is the Director of Communications for MCIE, Editor-in-Chief of Think Inclusive, and the host of the Think Inclusive Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @TheRealTimVegas.

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