Autistic non verbal words of wisdom - commencement speaker

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Posts: 26,190
Location: Long Island, New York

04 Oct 2021, 6:10 am

Dan Bergmann on his autism, and a breakthrough lesson
Dan Bergmann just earned his degree from Harvard Extension School, and was one of the speakers at this year's commencement:

When I was twelve years old, I suddenly learned to think, all at once, on a single day. Before that day almost no one would have thought that I would ever understand the world around me. I made meaningless noises, waved my arms, and shouted "cookie" when I wanted a cookie. I did not understand the children's books that were lovingly read to me, and had no clear sense of time or death or the other building blocks of this thing we call the human condition.

Thirteen years and a college degree later, I still make noises and wave my arms, but now I can type this commentary, with one finger, one letter at a time, into a text-to-speech computer and share my thoughts with you.

That day 13 years ago, I worked with a teacher who taught me how to answer questions. She put a pencil in my hand and showed me how to spell out the answers I had chosen by stabbing the pencil through letters cut out of a board.

I know now that a lot of my autism has to do with not being able to get my body to do what my mind wants it to do.

If someone seems like they can't or don't want to learn, look for the physical obstacle, and remove it.

For years I was classified as intellectually disabled. I think, at least where non-speakers with autism are concerned, there's no such thing.

Thank you.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman