Something new is being pioneered in Ontario by six men who live with quite severe challenges of autism. As they do not speak with their voices, other people might assume that they have nothing to say—even that they do not think or feel. But they are very expressive, on many topics, supported by AAC technology (alternative and augmentative communication) and the presence of family and friends who believe in them. The idea of meeting regularly began with one of the men, who also proposes agenda topics and acts as host. Family members and friends just facilitate the dream in practical ways--and listen! The men gather in Guelph from all over southern Ontario, and even Michigan. 

The pioneers have a dream of Bridges-Over-Barriers as “a centre for friends and family who live with the challenges of autism to come together to share support, ideas and community. Bridges is the beginning of an idea for us to build on a small community of adults with autism who have been meeting a few times a year since January 2004. We have been developing our skills as communicators and sharing technology ideas and friendship.

“We want to extend this community of pioneers to include more people. We would like there to be more opportunities for others to benefit from our experience, and to encourage and train more people to support those of us with communication and movement disorders.”

Members of Bridges share the philosophy of "People First": "Nothing about me without me" and "Though I may not speak with my voice, I have plenty to say."
Friends and families of the men like the potential of Bridges-Over-Barriers to help with supported decision-making, and are supporting them to start realizing the vision.

They share a vision of helping more adults who use supported typing and other forms of AAC to express their thoughts and dreams. Newsletter 5 (see link below) contains more information on specific projects.

Some of the men express themselves in poetry. There are some examples below, and more may be found in the Bridges
-Over-Barriers newsletters and in In My Mind.

Two Bridges newsletters were published in 2006, one in 2007, and the latest in November 2008:

Click for Newsletter 1, 2006
Click for Newsletter 2, 2006
Click for Newsletter 3, 2007
Click for Newsletter 4, 2008
Click for Newsletter 5, 2008
Click for Newsletter 6, 2008

In My Mind is a published collection of thoughts and words (often expressed as poetry) by one of the Bridges group. Click for more about In My Mind

The Beach  by John MD

The beach was calm and serene

early in the morning.

The water was moving very very little

towards the seashore.

The sand was as fine as grains of salt

under my bare feet.

The air smelled of seashells

and sand.

The sky was a clear soothing blue.

A feeling of peace permeated the air.

Family by Kevin
Family are special friends

always there for you

each with different traits and gifts.
What one person lacks
another has.
When one person is sad

another cheers him up.
For every joy
someone is there
to share the happiness.
I will always cherish each one.

I will have good memories.


Words by Andrew
Words are our way
of reaching each other.
In words I tell my story.
I say who I am
and who you are to me.
My words can sail to you
or hit their mark like a dart.
I tell you I love you
or can complain if I'm hurt.
I'm grateful I found my way
to share words,
very grateful indeed.

Connections by Andrew
Connecting is my purpose in life,
It is why we are here.
My world is connecting the dots:
You are one dot,
I am another.
We live in a world of connections
And the lines spread out from here.