On Saturday October 19th, the Northridge Center in San Fernando Valley, California held an inspirational event called “More Like You than Not”, where 230 people gathered to understand more about people with autism and exactly how they learn to communicate.
Sheelah Peterson, the event coordinator, explained that the point of this event was to dispel the myths that people with autism are not as intelligent as people who aren’t autistic. People tend to have this perspective, especially of those with autism who are non-verbal. The purpose of the event was to change this assumption of unintelligence that occurs simply because non-verbal autistic people can’t communicate the way that is normally expected.
Tracy Tresher and Larry Bissonnette were guest speakers at the event and talked about their struggles with having autism and being non-verbal. They also discussed their award-winning documentary called “Wretches & Jabberers”. The 2011 film is about their quest to change prevailing attitudes about autism and intelligence. They communicated with the audience at the event by typing into iPads. Their words were then projected onto two screens and also read out loud by a computer generated voice.
Christina Cannarella came to the event in order to learn how to communicate more effectively with her autistic son. She highlighted exactly what the guest speakers were trying to get across.
“We don’t need words to communicate and that’s the beauty of what Larry and Tracy are doing, “ Cannarella said. “People that are not able to share a physical voice are showing us other ways of communication.”