Niko’s response to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s [ASHA] proposed position statement on facilitated communication [FC] and rapid prompting method [RPM]. For more information about how you can lend your support to people like Niko who rely on letterboarding to communicate, please see this page. [LB]
My name is Niko Boskovic, and I have used a letterboard to communicate for the past four years. I use it in school, for homework, at work, and pretty much everywhere I need to make my thoughts and desires known. I have about a dozen people with whom I letterboard. They’ve been trained to work with me for a reason that is obvious: to be my voice. If I relied on the words that SLP’s taught me, nothing would be understood because my verbal communication is so affected. Maybe I would have learned to communicate with another modality, but letterboarding was so natural and fit so well with my abilities that I took to it like a fish to water.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I know how to letterboard. My life would be so different: I wouldn’t be in general education; I wouldn’t be on my way to graduating with a regular diploma; I wouldn’t be working at Trader Joe’s for $13 an hour. The only thing missing is having a girlfriend, and I guess that’s normal for a 16 year old.
What I’m trying to say is that being able to communicate has changed the trajectory of my future. I am irate over the notion of a committee of non-experts is trying to take away this form of communication. It seems like a personal vendetta, to be honest. I can’t understand what their motivation is except to stifle the voices of people with disabilities. This is where we are presently: the able-bodied deciding what’s best for us. I say enough to that historic oppression – your biases aren’t fooling anyone.