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
“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.
share a vision of helping more adults who use
supported typing and other forms of AAC to express their thoughts and
5 (see link below) contains more information on specific
Some of the men express themselves in poetry. There are some examples
and more may be found in the Bridges-Over-Barriers newsletters and in In My Mind.
published in 2006, one in 2007, and the latest in November 2008:
Newsletter 1, 2006
Newsletter 2, 2006
Newsletter 3, 2007
Newsletter 4, 2008
Newsletter 5, 2008
Click for Newsletter 6, 2008
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
The beach was calm
early in the morning.
The water was moving very very little
towards the seashore.
The sand was as fine as grains
under my bare feet.
The air smelled of seashells
The sky was a clear soothing
A feeling of peace
permeated the air.
Family by Kevin
Family are special friends
always there for you
each with different traits
What one person lacks
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 are our
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
My world is
connecting the dots:
You are one dot,
I am another.
We live in a world of
And the lines spread
out from here.