Film: “Spellers” — Autism Non-Speakers Revolution
By Neenah Payne
Underestimated: The Autism Miracle discusses Del Bigtree’s May 2021 interview on The Highwire with JB Handley and his son Jamison who is autistic (“Non-Speaker”). Jamie has proven to be super smart and a whiz at calculus. His immediate goal is to go to college to study neuroscience. His goal in 10 years is to be able to speak and to get married. About seven million Americans have autism. However, only 1,000-1,500 have gone through the program that freed Jamie. Stephanie Seneff Ph.D. warns that by 2032, 50% (80% of boys) of Americans kids will be autistic!
Underestimated: An Autism Miracle is a 2021 book which was Jamie’s idea. In 2021, he said he wanted to make a film documenting the program that allowed him and his autistic school mates to “speak”. That film is now available for screenings as shown further below.
Underestimated: An Autism Miracle (Children’s Health Defense)
From “Autistic” to “Non Speakers” or “Spellers”
Autistic people were assumed to be mentally retarded because their motor impairment was seen as a cognitive impairment. However, it was discovered that a significant percentage of autistic people are of high intelligence and have a motor disorder that keeps them from speaking. The motor impairment blocks fine motor skills including speech. Like stroke victims, it’s difficult for autistic people to control their bodies.
Spelling To Communicate (S2C)
“S2C” stands for “Spelling to Communicate”. Dawnmarie Gaivin is a Registered S2C Practitioner who shows autistic people how to point to letters on a “letterboard” to spell words. This creates a neural pathway in the brain to the eyes and hands. Autistic people who use S2C to communicate prefer to be called “Non Speakers” or “Spellers” now.
Jamie was born normal, but regressed at 15 months and for 17 years was unable to communicate with the world around him. Now, a new program has unlocked his voice and challenges everything we thought we knew about autism. Jamie had his first S2C lesson in December 2019. In the course of a year, he graduated to a keyboard with a voice output. Jamie’s father serves as emotional support as Jamie uses the keyboard at home, but Jamie (like all teenagers) insisted on having someone else support him at school.
JB Handley and his son Jamison (Jamie) were interviewed in An Autism Miracle.
I was so wrong about autism (thank God!)
March 17, 2021
PORTLAND, Oregon—Jamie is sitting at the desk in our home office, directly in front of a computer screen where Dana Johnson, an occupational therapist based in Florida, is guiding Jamie through a process she calls “self commands.” I’m sitting to Jamie’s right, laminated letterboard in hand, serving as Jamie’s “CRP,” an acronym familiar to the brave few undertaking a new communication method for nonspeakers with autism like Jamie known as Spelling 2 Communicate (“S2C”), which happens to be the subject of a new book co-written by me and Jamie that will be released next week by Skyhorse Publishing on March 23rd. (By the way, CRP stands for “Communication and Regulation Partner.”)
On the desk in front of Jamie sit three objects: a roll of scotch tape, a watch, and a pair of sunglasses. They are evenly spaced out and the directive for Jamie is really simple: using the letterboard, tell your dad which object you will be picking up, and then do so. My job is also very clear: beyond repeating what Jamie spelled—and he spelled “I will pick up the watch”—say and do absolutely nothing. Just sit there. And, so I do. Jamie sits there. Dana sits there (on the screen). Minutes go by. Jamie appears no closer to completing his declared task. He tries to get me to tickle him. Finally, Dana adds the first verbal command of this exercise: “Jamie, eyes on it.” Jamie looks down, reaches out his hand, and picks up the watch. We all celebrate!
It’s fair by now if you’re feeling confused as hell, especially if you’re the parent of a nonspeaking child with autism. A year ago, I certainly would have been confused. The last year has been, beyond an insane whirlwind, the most joyous and unexpectedly miraculous time of my life, my wife’s life, and, more than anyone else’s life, Jamie’s.
In December 2019, I got an unexpected text from an autism mom based in Philadelphia—Honey Rinicella—with a remarkable story to tell about her son Vince, another non speaker with autism, slightly older than Jamie. It turn out that Vince, over the course of the few months, has emerged from his silent prison through the letterboard to reveal a highly intelligent, warm, caring, thoughtful soul. As Honey explained to me at the time, “We thought the height of his cognition was ‘I want juice’ and now this!” What is “this” exactly, I ask? Honey delivers the goods. A recent lesson Vince had with his S2C practitioner included the following back and forth, the all caps is Vince’s answer to the question posed by his S2C teacher, meticulously spelled out on a letterboard…
Soon after Honey’s phone call, we embarked upon our own journey of teaching Jamie how to spell through a letterboard using the guidance of trained S2C professionals in Virginia, Southern California, and here in Portland. And, much to my joyous surprise, we started to see the same complex language emerge from Jamie that Honey had seen in Vince. I could tell you all about that journey, but that’s really the subject of our new book, Underestimated: An Autism Miracle, so I hope you check it out! I won’t leave you totally in the dark, however, I will share some of Jamie’s words. But, before I do, I need to give you some very important context:
Del Bigtree, host of The Highwire, discussed the film Spellers at 44:00, in a preview of his February 16 show.
In Episode 307 “Unsilenced”, Del Bigtree interviewed Jamie and his father on The Highwire on February 16 about his film Spellers starting at 1:23:42 in the show.
Inspired by the book Underestimated, by Jamie and JB Handley, from Executive Producers Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlberg, the new full-length documentary SPELLERS challenges conventional wisdom regarding a group relegated to society’s margins: nonspeakers with autism, who most “experts” believe are cognitively disabled.
As the film opening asks, “What if they’d been wrong…about every single one of them?” SPELLERS answers that question, in convincing fashion, through the stories of eight nonspeakers—Aydan, Evan, Sid, Maddie, Jamie, Vince, Cade, and Elizabeth—who all found their voice through the process of using a letterboard to communicate their thoughts and feelings. As Jamie explains, “We think, feel, and learn just like everyone else.”
The film blends beautiful cinematography with heart-wrenching stories of these eight spellers and a strong message for every parent of a Non-Speaker: your child can do this, too. SPELLERS also demands that teachers, schools, and therapists wake up to the reality that we may have underestimated the abilities of more than 50 million people worldwide.
If you are interested in hosting a private screening event for SPELLERS, please let us know: https://spellersthemovie.com/screeners.”SPELLERS will be screened at film festivals across the country. Please stay connected for updates.
Phoenix Film Festival
The Phoenix Film Festival has been named one of The 25 Coolest Film Festivals and a Top 50 Worth the Entry Fee by MovieMaker Magazine and has been called the most filmmaker-friendly festival. Recently, Spellers earned a spot on MovieMaker’s 20 Great Film Festivals for First-Time Moviemakers.
Spellers: Communication For Nonspeakers
Spellers – Communication for Nonspeakers
We empower the nonspeaker whose voice is not yet heard to communicate autonomously, live independently, and thrive in a life of their choosing. Unlike traditional supports, our approach, method, and pursuit of speller autonomy and freedom starts with a belief in every nonspeaker and transcends to the communication partners and professionals who support them.
We envision a world where spellers are accepted and celebrated for the value they add to the world; where they communicate autonomously, live independently, thrive in careers and relationships of their choosing, and enjoy the same rights and privileges as the rest of us. We envision a world where spellers are free!
About Spellers Method™ — Spellers – Communication for Nonspeakers
Our goal is to have trained Spellers Method™ Practitioners in every time zone, so you won’t have to travel far to get expert help on your nonspeakers’ journey to autonomous communication and living skills. The individuals listed here have completed our Spellers Method training and have mentored families in multiple immersion week programs as well as our online CRP courses. Contact them directly to inquire about their services.
Spellers Method Trained Practitioners — Spellers – Communication for Nonspeakers
We Listen: Spellers deserve to be included and are capable of autonomous lives. We coach spellers to independent communication and embrace spellers’ rights to the communication method of their choice. We support spellers in their pursuit of autonomy, not just in communication, but in life. We see and hear spellers when no one else does.
We Are Allies: Those who support spellers must listen, be respectful, show empathy, and be committed to the highest ethical standards to be considered allies. We patiently listen to our spellers & their families and try to fully understand their perspective before sharing ours. We always look for the good and highlight other’s strengths. We never judge or shame others for doing the very best they can in the moment, based on their beliefs. We focus on making a difference to the single speller right in front of us; we are not driven by quantifiable numbers of spellers served.
An Army of Spellers
Spellers Method trained practitioners incorporate research and expertise from the fields of assistive technology, developmental optometry, and occupational therapy to guide each student’s unique path to fluency, from their very first spelling session through their attainment of autonomous communication skills. (ie, spelling without the need for a trained communication partner holding a keyboard).
We believe that all nonspeakers have a voice. Nonspeakers need us to help amplify their voices—not be their voices. A revolution requires this to happen. We aren’t the revolution; we are allies in their revolution. They can’t do it without us, and we shouldn’t do it without them. We are only allies to spellers when we amplify their voices.
Dire Prediction: 50% of American Kids Will Be Autistic by 2032
Interesting, neither the book Underestimated: An Autism Miracle nor the film Spellers discusses the causes of the rapidly growing national crisis of autism! When Dr. Zach Bush started his clinic in rural Virginia in 2010, he discovered that his patients’ guts had been destroyed by Monsanto’s GMO crops. The food of today is not like the food of the 1970s. The nutrients are profoundly deficient and there are chemicals in the foods — herbicides, pesticides, plastics, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, etc. — that cause Leaky Gut and gluten intolerance.
Glyphosate is in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer which was introduced in 1976. It’s the most effective weed killer that’s ever been developed because Roundup removes both the building blocks and the medicines in our foods. In 1992, Roundup began to be sprayed on wheat and in 1996 on corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and then sugar beets and 30 other crops since then. That resulted in a chronic disease epidemic that will take down America if not stopped. It is this chronic erosion of biology beneath our feet that threatens us with extinction within the next hundred years!
The introduction of Monsanto’s GMO foods in the 1990s caused the sudden decline in American health with surges in autism, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and a host of degenerative diseases as shown in many graphs like the one below from Why I Tell My Patients To Avoid GMO Foods.
MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff Ph.D., a biologist with more than 170 peer-reviewed academic articles, warns that 50% (80% of boys) of children will be autistic by 2032 — putting an unsustainable burden on the American healthcare system and economy.
Low Dose Naltrexon For Autism
Dr. Brian Udell is a pediatrian in Miami, Florida who specializes in autism. In 2008, he began seeing about 7 autistic children a week. Now, he might see 10 autistic kids a day. In 2006, a paper showed that Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a valuable tool for autism. Dr. Udell has been using LDN since 2008 and it has been very successful. LDN is inexpensive and easy to take because he gives it as a cream. Dr. Udell says there are no other choices for autism.
William and Tina Valezquez describe their autistic son Jacob who was aggressive and uncommunicative. When Dr. Udell put Jacob on glutathione, he began to improve. However, when he put Jacob on LDN cream, there was literally an over-night 180 degree improvement. Later, William and Tina found that the liquid form of LDN was even more effective. They say most people would never know now that Jacob had been diagnosed with autism three years earlier. LDN costs them about $29 a month.
Dr. Udell explains that many autistic kids turn out to be “savants” – prodigies! At age three, Jacob suddenly began playing the piano as his father does. His parents found a piano teacher for Jacob and he now excells. He is playing Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and amazes his parents every day. Jacob performed on Good Morning America, CNN, local news, etc. When William and Tina posted a YouTube video of Jacob playing, it went viral!
In the video 10-Year-Old Pianist Jacob Velazquez With The Hallandale Symphonic Pops Orchestra, Jacob performs from memory without a musical score for over 20 minutes! The other musicians have scores!
See Low Dose Naltrexone — Miracle Drug! and Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) “Wonder Drug”!
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider.
Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze