Resilience in nonspeakers is likely taken for granted. Given the odds stacked against us most times, resilience is almost a necessary survival skill. Point not lost when life feels like a perennial comeback story. Every setback, health or otherwise, has to have a proportionate response that is often a tale of resilience.

The challenge though is that this resilience stuff is not easy. It takes a lot of thought and action to overcome every setback while having no guarantee that it wouldn’t occur again. Every setback is a multiyear journey as it would take systemic changes for us to fully heal. It often feels like we are running multiple marathons at once and none of them have a defined finish line.

So how do you keep yourself hydrated? How do you manage cramps or injuries along the way? What should you cheer or support squad look like, especially during the difficult parts of the race?

My resilience journey often starts with a tug of war. We try to see if we can brute force the setback away, especially when the full magnitude is not fully clear. This is when we have the most uncertainty and stress, as battle lines are being drawn yet. Sometimes the setback vanishes, but more often we would have met more than our match and be also left with bruises.

That is when we bring our longer game. The first step here is revisiting our immediate goals and coming to terms with a pause where needed. The next step is getting comfortable with doing what is needed even if it feels unproductive. For example, this might just be working on motor loops all day as opposed to a writing project or a science experiment. And finally, the parents/caregivers need to rework their priorities, including their day jobs among other things, to provide the support needed long with a team of other professionals.


Our resilience story is often a sum greater than its individual parts. But the interdependence in this cannot be ignored. It is the story of a community and it often takes a village.

Swarit Gopalan

About the Author

I am an 11-yr old autistic, nonspeaker that uses letterboard to spell/keyboard to type to communicate.I live with my family in Florida and go to Invictus Academy for school. 
I find a lot of solace in expressing myself through poetry. Music and nature also help me stay in the present, there is nothing better for me than to have my movement create a symphony with nature and to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Living in harmony with nature is my life’s mission.
Right from the time of diagnosis, we are only told about all things we cannot or will not be able to do. Along with the check that is written to the doctor for the diagnosis, it often feels like our agency is written off too, especially without a reliable communication mechanism.  
Time to change the paradigm with more non speaker voices. It has always been a dream to share my thoughts and perspectives with the world so that I can be one of the catalysts to creating a better understanding of non speakers in general. 
My hope is that my words will help change the world from sympathy and pity for those like me to one of deeper understanding of our lives and allyship to ensure our rights.

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