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



Fully included in the regular education curriculum from K thru college graduation, I had the good fortune of studying with 52 teachers, 22 professors, 18 school support assistants, 15 after school assistants, 5 speech therapists, 4 occupational therapists, and 6 principals in 2 different school districts over 18 years. Listen2Us is my way of giving back to each and every one of you with the hope that every child receives the same kind of education I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from. Inclusion shouldn’t be a lottery.

– David James (“Deej”) Savarese

Poet Wants You To Rethink What It Means To Be Nonspeaking

Iowa Public Radio--Talk of Iowa, February 20, 2020

Simply by his resume, poet and documentarian David James Savarese is exceptional. His <a class=">Simply by his resume, poet and documentarian David James Savarese is exceptional. His poems and prose have been published in journals and magazines across the country, including the Iowa Review, and his 2017 documentary Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t Be a Lottery, which he co-produced, earned a 2018 Peabody Award and Emmy nomination.  Savarese is also autistic and nonspeaking. He describes poetry as his native language.  “I learned how to sign and use photos and objects to communicate before I learned how to read and write. I loved having ways to communicate what I wanted or needed, but I didn’t have any way to communicate my hopeful ideas,” Savarese says. “Eventually I learned to read and write at school, and slowly started to use words to talk about my life… The world came into focus and I loved what I saw.”   

Transcript of interview

My Literacy Journey & Beyond: Webinar Presentation & Dialogue with DJ Savarese


Inclusion shouldn’t be a lottery. Everyone deserves a literacy-based education, but teachers are not always trained in how to teach reading and writing to neurodiverse learners. In this session, DJ will share the various accommodations that he used from kindergarten through sixth grade to become the avid reader and published author he is today, and some of his later writings, which offer worthwhile insights into his lived experience. Recommended for parents and teachers.

Saturday, May 23rd at 1:00 pm EDT.  The discussion will be virtual.  Use this link to connect.  


Neurodiversity & Creative Practice--Thursday, April 23rd 1:30pm EDT

Please join in on Thursday, April 23rd at 1:30 EST for "NEURODIVERSITY & CREATIVE PRACTICE: A Presentation & Dialogue with DJ Savarese. The zoom link is HERE.
The link is password protected, so email me at, to obtain the password anytime BEFORE noon on Thursday. Thanks for your interest in joining the discussion!




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: