by トレイシー・スレッシャー（Tracy Thresher）
TYPING, COMMUNICATION, AND INTELLIGENCE
I am Tracy Thresher and I have been typing to communicate my thoughts since 1990. I was one of the first people in the United States to be introduced to typing as a way of communicating. First, I want to share my thoughts on having a way to communicate and having a voice. Not being able to express myself was like being in a world of silence. I couldn't tell people what I liked and didn't like. People thought I was retarded that I didn't understand what was being said to me. It was frustrating and made me angry and I withdrew. The experience of the world looks different from my experience. Most people take their ability to talk for granted - I take my inability to talk quite seriously. I live with it everyday - it is always there each time someone wants to read my thoughts.
I want to let you know that I am not retarded. I communicate by typing on a computer with a large keyboard, a letter board, or a communication device that speaks my words. I do not speak because I have Autism. Autism means that I have a difficult time controlling my movements. It means that I find it difficult to do things that others take for granted. I have learned that movement issues mean something and that people interpret my actions as if I wanted to do them. My lack of impulse control, my going too hard at the letters, my problems with perseveration, and my pesky echolalia are things that get in the way of my ability to demonstrate my intelligence.
This typing right now is moving my anxiety up the ladder thinking about wasted years trying to show my ability to communicate. I get so angry thinking about it! What could I do but wallow in my silent world with the world seeing only Autism. Yes, I can read and type but was not able to show I could until I was in my twenties. The world saw the Autism before typing and guess what? I acted Autistic much of the time without a meaningful way to express myself I could really only try and fail - what great frustration was that!
Want to type about wars of Autism, movement, and speech. With Autism my speech is unreliable and the words are stuck in my head fighting to come out. I experience big time problems with anxiety, impulsive movement problems (poor impulse control), perseveration, high muscle tone, and lack of proprioception. This affects everything I do in life.
Typing is my only way to really express myself and my speech is easily misunderstood. I am Autistic... I am very different when it comes to my way of moving the differences make me look stupid...without the touch I go too fast and type the same thing over and over just like my speech. I can show you my intelligence with typing otherwise I would not be able to.
Before 1990 it was very mind boggling for me and my family. They meant well but didn't know the real son. Those who tried to teach me thought I didn't understand them and some thought I was retarded. I want to treat people to my interior thinking. Sometimes I think saying the words is what will convince others of how I really do understand. But of course I can't say the words and passively stand alone hoping the person that is trying to communicate with me will see that I want social contact, relationship, and conversation.
With a respectful favorite communication partner I can experience those things. Without people satisfying my meaningful typing conversations I am at risk as being labeled as not understanding, not wanting to communicate, or wanting to do something else. What my experience has been with trying to communicate before typing was frustration, erratic behavioral times to get my way, and helplessness. Now when typing I can self-express and connect with others in a way that's not possible. With typing I am able to get my words out and let people know what I am thinking and feeling. Supporting my typing requires patience, understanding, and training. With that people can know the real me.
My family has supported me by providing a home for much of my adult life. I made the decision to move out a number of years ago because I felt suffocated at home. I love my mom and dad dearly; however I wanted to be free and independent. When I was able to voice this I told my mom I was moving out. It was one of the most difficult and trying times in my life, but I know I made the right decision because I would not be where I am today. I am now living between two different home providers. This is working for now but some day I would like to be independent and free of worries that my providers will give up. I am okay with my arrangement; however, like anyone I want more.
I am a self advocate who is inspired by those who want to share their voice. In my profession as an advocate I travel around the country and beyond to teach people about advocacy, autism, movement differences, and communication. I live, breathe, and think about quality of life initiatives. I am passionate about where our country is going as far as education and services for all citizens is concerned. Thank you for listening.
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