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


  • Leadership, Organizing, and Action, The Kennedy School at Harvard (2018).
  • B.A. Anthropology and Creative Writing, Oberlin College (2017). Phi Beta Kappa.
  • H.S.D. Grinnell High School, Iowa (2011). Highest Honors. National Honors Society.

Professional History

  • Youth Fellow, Open Society Foundations/Human Rights Initiative, 2017-          .
  • Co-producer and Writer, Deej, a Peabody-awarding winning and Emmy-nominated documentary film that follows my inclusion journey from ninth-grade through the first semester at Oberlin. ITVS funded. America ReFramed broadcast 2017/18.
  • Teacher and Course Designer, Neurodiversity and Advocacy. Experimental College (Exco), Oberlin College, Spring 2017.

Advocacy Work & Fellowships

  • Delphi Survey, ASAN & GMU, Washington, DC, 2018.  Community Living Summit, ASAN, Washington, DC, 2018.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Scholar Fellow 2016-2017 ($5,000).           
  • Working Group on Access and Disability, Oberlin College, 2016-2017.
  • Teacher and Designer, Artful Advocacy Workshops, Oberlin College, 2016-2017.
  • Co-planner, Neurodiversity Week, Oberlin College, 2015/16 and 2016/17. Organized panels and lectures, including Steve Silberman and Lydia X.Z. Brown Comfort Starr Award for scholarly work in Anthropology, May 2017.
  • William Battrick Poetry Fellowship, Oberlin College, 2016-2017 ($3,500).
  • Lisa Higgins Hussman Scholarship, Organization for Autism Research, 2014-2015 ($3,000).
  • ASAN Autism Campus Inclusion(ACI) Summer Leadership Academy, 2012.
  • DisABLED and PROUD Conference, Syracuse University, 2011.
  • Uncommon Student Award, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa, 2010.  Designed and implemented a community service project entitled “Plotting Hope:  Giving Voice to Nonspeaking People” ($5,000).


  • “How to Become an Artful Activist,” Teen Mentoring, Winter 2018, blog post.
  • “Contributor’s Spotlight,” Bellingham Review no 77, Fall 2018, interview.  
  • “Autism” & “Nothing but Nostrils,”Bellingham Review no 77, Fall 2018, poems.
  • “Oberlin Diary,” Nine Mile Magazine, Fall 2018, poem.
  • “Ode to the Bathtub,” The Art of Autism, Fall 2018, poem.
  •  A Doorknob for the Eye, Unrestricted Interest Press, chapbook, 2017.
  • “Passive Plants,” The Iowa Review, Spring 2017, lyric essay.
  • 4 animated poems in Deej, documentary film, America ReFramed, 2017/18.
  • “Tongue” & “Swoon,” Seneca Review, Spring 2017, poems.
  • “The Earth Beneath Us (and Sometimes the Sky),” Outcrop, Feb 2017, poem.
  • “Blanch-Ink-Jet Manuever” and  “Vogels: Drawing By David Barth, Age 10, 2008,”  Wordgathering, Dec 2015, poems.
  • “Red Light, Green Light,” Voices for Equity and Diversity in Education: A Literary Anthology, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015, poem.
  • “Strabismus,” Stone Canoe (8), 2014, poem.
  • “A Letter to My Former Teachers.” Understanding the Nature of Autism: A Guide to the Autism Spectrum Disorders, (3rd edition), 2012.
  • “Communicate with Me,” Disability Studies Quarterly 30.1, 2010, prose.
  •  “It’s My Story,” Reasonable People. Other Press, 2007, nonfiction.

Interviews & Reviews: Broadcast & Print

  • “What the Movie DEEJ Means to Me as a Non-speaking Autistic Man,” The Art of Autism. Jeremy Sicile-Kira, Fall 2018.
  • “Fresh-thinking on Autism: The Documentary Film Deej Challenges Us All to Live Inclusion.” Jason Tougaw, August 8, 2018.
  • “The Film Deej Upends What You Think You Know About Disability.” Bloom Blog.  May 28, 2018.
  • Live Radio Panel Interview. Connections with Evan Dawson, NPR, May 22, 2018.
  • “Q & A: What Real Inclusion for Nonspeaking Autistics Means,” Voices. Open Society Foundations, December 1, 2017.
  • “Book Review: A Doorknob for the Eye by DJ Savarese,” (44), 2017.
  • “Finding Amanda,” neurodiversity documentary, Anderson Cooper 360, 2008. TV interview by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Conference Presentations & Panel Discussions

  • “Perspectives, Poetry, & Personhood: A Workshop,” Neurodiversities Symposium, Duke University, Durham, NC, Oct 2018 
  • “Building Inclusive Lives: Interdependence, Self-Determination, & Advocacy,” Keynote speaker. Autism Symposium, Rochester, MN, Nov 2018
  • “Inclusion Shouldn't Be a Lottery: A Story of Self, of Us, of Now,” Keynote speaker.
  • Network + Affinity Leadership Congress NALC East, Newark, NJ, 2018.
  • “My Literacy Journey & Beyond,” Presenter, Midwest Summer Institute, UNI, 2018.
  • “Listen2Us: Shifting Misconceptions About Nonspeaking People,” Panelist. Multiple
  • Perspectives on Access, Inclusion, and Disability Conference, OSU, April 2018.
  • “Listen2Us: My Journey to Literacy,” Keynote speaker. Rethinking Autism Conference, April 2018.
  • Deej. Welling Disability Studies Lecture, Miami of Ohio, April 2018.
  • “Perspectives of College Students,” Panelist, Syracuse ICI Summer Institute, 2013.
  • “Playing with Your Hearts and Minds: Drama as Advocacy,” Keynote speaker, UNH/Institute on Disability “Everybody Reads, Everybody Writes, Everybody Has Something to Say” conference, Nashua, NH, 2011.
  • “Authoring Ourselves,” Invited Presenter, “Finding a Voice, Finding a Place, Finding a Purpose” Symposium, MIT, July 2011.
  • “Smart Self’s Walk Down Freedom’s Trail,” Invited lecture with my father. Roanoke College, Roanoke, VA, March 2011.
  • “Giving Back to the Community,” Invited panelist, “Communication, Competence, Community: Nothing About Us Without Us” Autism National Committee (AutCom) Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WIS, October 2010.
  • “Plotting Hope: Giving Voice to Non-Speaking People,” Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award Presentation, West Branch, IA, 2010.
  • “Poetry: Raising Understanding, Yearning to be Understood,” Iowa/Illinois Typists, Davenport, IA, September 2010.
  • “’Easy-breathing Autism’: Supporting Relationships, Literacy and Self-esteem,” Invitedworkshop trainer with parents, PEPSA training for the Center for Autism andRelated Disabilities, University of Florida/Gainesville, July 2010.
  • “Talking with Teens,” Invited panelist. “Opening Doors—With Voices and Choices” Autism National Committee (AutCom) Annual Conference, New Hampshire, October 2009.
  • “Reasonable Educators,” Invited with parents, ChildServe Conference, Johnston, IA,September 2008.
  • “’Political Freedom Fighting’: Autism and Student Self-Advocates,” Invited with father, Iowa State Association of Counties/Case Management Services Conference, August 2008.
  • “Inclusion for All,” Invited keynote speaker with parents. Wisconsin Public InstructionConference, Wausau, WIS, July 2008.
  • “A More Inclusive World,” Invited keynote speaker with family. East Polk InteragencyAssociation Conference, Altoona, IA, February 2008.
  • “Inclusion Now,” Invited speaker with parents. Annual CARD Conference, Orlando, FL, January 2008.
  • “Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion,” Presenter. TASH Conference, Seattle, WA, December 2007.

Awards & Other Scholarships

  • Peabody Award, Deej, 2018.
  • ASAN Harriet McBride Johnson Award for Nonfiction, 2018.
  • Notable Mention, 2018 Best American Essays, “Passive Plants,” 2018.
  • TASH Positive Images in the Media, Deej, 2018. 
  • Emmy nomination for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction, Deej, 2018.
  • Cal-TASH Positive Images in the Media Award, Deej, 2018.
  • Pushcart Prize nomination, “Passive Plants,” The Iowa Review, 2017/18.
  • Best Feature Documentary, Deej, Superfest International Disability Film Festival, 2017.
  • Best Feature Documentary, Deej, Chagrin Falls Film Festival, 2017.
  • Best Feature Documentary, Deej, Indigo Moon Film Festival, 2017.
  • Audience Award, Deej, Newburyport Film Festival, 2017.
  • Oberlin College Grant, $3,000/yr. 2012-2017; Green Fund Scholarship, $1,000. 2012-2013.
  • Mediacom Scholarship, $1,000. 2012-2013;
  • Outstanding Performance at the State Level for “Finding Our Voices,” Invited writer and assistant director, “Readers Theatre,” 2011.
  • Outstanding Performance at the State Level for “Plotting Hope,” Invited writer and assistant director, 2009.