Listen 2 Us - Literacy, Self-Determination, and Interdependence for Nonspeakers


Upcoming Events!

May 2019

May 23

Presentation on Artful Advocacy & the making of the film, Deej.  (This is a closed event)

Summer 2019


September 2019

September 12-13th

Albion College:  Film Screening, Community Discussion & Poetry reading

October 2019

See Past Events


2019 United Nation's World Autism Awareness Day


This year's theme for the UN's Autism Awareness Day was Assistive Technologies, Active Participation.  The focus was on leveraging the use of assistive technologies for persons with autism as a tool in removing the barriers to their full social, economic, and political participation in society.  Also, to promote equality, equity, and inclusion.  Several self-advocates and experts were invited to speak at the UN Headquarters in New York on April 2, 2019.   Here is a link to the full program video.  The opening session address is at 5:30 minutes on the video and runs for about 20 minutes. 

Some additional links:

UN News:  Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to 'acheive their full potential' says UN Chief

Balitang America:  Raising awareness, Communication and Tech Accessibility for those with Autism

Words with Perspective:  Goal 10.  Reduced Inequalities




Teen Mentoring blog post: "How to Become an Artful Activist" by DJ 

"Each of us has the capacity to make our world a better place. Knowing and believing that is called 'self-efficacy'."-- DJ Savarese

"Write Everyday, Make it a Practice" by DJ

Contributor's Spotlight, Bellingham Review No. 77

What the Movie Deej Means To Me As A Non-Speaking Autistic Man

Film review by Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Documenting Disability:  The Importance of Disability Expertise

  • Be sure to check out this amazing post about the contribution of disabled documentarians and filmmakers, including DJ Savarese.  "We need disabled filmmakers to propel the new documentary cinema forward, challending assumptions of disability by shedding light on the diversity of experiences people with disabilities encounter."  -Dr. Emily Beitiks

DJ Savarese Tells His Story in New Documentary 'Deej'

Deej Highlights Interdependence, Challenges Assumptions  The Oberlin College Review, October 6, 2017

ASAN Harriet McBryde Johnson Award for Non-Fiction 2018 - Gala speech by DJ Savarese

Deej, an America Reframed documentary film received a 2017 Peabody Award!

WXXI - Connections: Discussing the Reel Mind Theatre and Film Series

  • Evan Dawson at Rochester, NY--Excerpt from panel discussion:

Being nonspeaking does not mean you’re nonverbal or unable to read and write. It just means that the complex motoric orchestration needed to utter words from our bodies takes longer to master. In the meantime, we have just as much right as anyone else—and perhaps a more urgent need-- to learn to read and write.” --DJ Savarese


About Me...


I currently work full-time as an Open Society Foundations/ Human Rights Initiative Youth Fellow, working to make literacy-based education, communication, and inclusive lives a reality for all nonspeaking people through artful advocacy, community-based projects, and teaching. I am also the co-producer of the Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary Deej: Inclusion shouldn’t be a lottery (, which works to unearth the discrepancies between the insider and outsider perspectives of my lived experience as an alternatively communicating autistic. Before moving to Iowa City, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College in May 2017 with a double major in Anthropology and Creative Writing. I have a chapbook entitled A Doorknob for the EyeOther poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, such as The Iowa Review, Seneca Review, Prospect, Disability Studies Quarterly, and and are just out in Bellingham Review, Nine Mile Magazine, and Art as Autism. My lyric essay “Passive Plants,” published in The Iowa Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received Notable Mention in the 2018 Best American Essays. (samples of my writing, including a link to this essay can be found on my per)sonal website.

Full CV here.