Last week was a big week for me. I presented a speech at Autism Awareness Day in Montpelier on Wednesday and I was on VPR on Thursday and Friday.
Oh, life is getting fun because the previous week I was hired to conduct an interactive workshop with the staff at the agency where I receive services; Champlain Community Services. I had a blast with that and will share some of the highlights of that next week.
What I want to do now is share what I said at the Statehouse:
“It’s great to be back here at the Statehouse again. I was here in February testifying to get an increase in pay for the people who work directly with those of us who receive developmental services. It’s great to be here on Autism Awareness Day.
I am Mark Utter. I am a man who has autism and I type to communicate what I am thinking. This issue is key to everything I do.
I am happy about how the first half of my life has gone but the real support that is crucial in my life has been having access to Supported Typing. This came later in my life so a lot of things and habits got established while I was coasting along without a way to communicate. Really totally happy that people trust the real room Supported Typing gives people with autism to say to those around us that we are aware of everything going on and have much more intelligence than they easily think.
I will say a few things to give you a picture of my life and then I will return to my current urgent need around my communication supports. I live with my family in Colchester, Vermont. I am happy to have a friendly, loving home but it’s time for me to start getting other plans in place. I learn routines well and the moving would allow new learning to happen for me.
I am an employee of Sodexo and have been washing dishes for them for 17 years, twice a week for 3 hours a day. I love being part of the workforce and I do love the activity of it. I have benefited from having someone taking care that I log in correctly, get my apron and gloves on and have a break midway through my shift to have a drink of something. I am hopefully working myself out of this job.
I also am someone who likes to get out of the house so in the past I looked for any community activity that the agency I received services from was offering to get out. I am more selective about my time now and try to do things that will support joyfully becoming the man I am supposed to become now that I have access to typing.
I moved my services to Champlain Community Services about five months ago. The reason is because I want to start a business that is an offshoot from the great knowledge and experience I gained making a movie about my life.
My movie is called “I am in here; a view of my daily life with good suggestions for improvement from my intelligent mind.”I am ready to meet the world. The wish to make a movie that told the story I needed to share was also a huge lesson in communication for me.
My company is named “Utter Communication Strategies” and with it I hope to do wonderful things. One thing is to share the story of my obviously difficult time with verbal communication.
I am in an exciting new chapter in my life and very eager to succeed yet there are some very big hurdles ahead.
I am aware some of these issues are connected with how people find it hard to get past my wonderful affable character to get to the real me. I am in a body that does not easily connect with my mind and most of what you are seeing is a series of habits I have developed over years when people were unable to access my mind. I am totally into the persona I have fashioned for the first part of my life. I needed a way to share my super positive way of being. My super very Charlie Chaplin-like character has worked so well for me.
How connected to my true thinking, wishes and desires is this character?
I share my life experience through my words. Not the ones I say but the ones I write. I am needing to expand the pool of communication supporters in my life. I need a wider base of support to hold the understanding that I am a highly intelligent man. The best way this can happen is by people reading my blog. I am hopeful you will share this writing with others and inspire them to sign up to receive my blog posting notices at www.utterenergy.org.”
Now here is the piece that was on VPR as part of Erica Heilman’s Rumble Strip podcast.