The non-autistic monk gives the opening speech of his college

“God has given you a voice. Use it, ”Elizabeth Bonker told her alumni. “And no, the irony of a speechless autistic man encouraging you to use your voice is unknown to me.”

Scott Cook / Rollins College

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Scott Cook / Rollins College

“God has given you a voice. Use it, ”Elizabeth Bonker told her alumni. “And no, the irony of a speechless autistic man encouraging you to use your voice is unknown to me.”

Scott Cook / Rollins College

He did not say a word, it only made his message more powerful. Witness Elizabeth Bonker recently spoke at Rollins College in Florida, urging her classmates to serve others and accept the power of sharing.

Bonker, who suffers from speechless autism, does not speak from the age of 15 months. But thanks to the acceptable attitude of his peers, teachers, as well as technology, he overcame many challenges and graduated from his first grade at an Orlando school.

“God has given you a voice, use it” Bonker told his alumni. “And no, the irony of a non-speaking autistic person encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the value in me, you can see the value in everyone you meet. ”


Bonker used text-to-speech software to convey the launch message, which was an honor he was chosen by his friends.

“I typed this speech with one finger with a communication partner holding the keyboard,” he said. “I am one of the few happy autistic people who have been taught to print. “That one critical intervention took my mind off the silent cage, allowing me to communicate and educate myself like my hero Helen Keller.”

Rollins’s new graduate looks at a well-known student, Mr. Rogers

In his speech, Bonker reminded of another hero, Fred Rogers, the most famous graduate of Florida College. The school unveiled the statue last year the man widely known as Mr. Rogers. And that has long included his lessons.

“When he died, a handwritten note was found in his wallet,” Bonker said. “He said life is for service.” «

He urged his classmates to tear a piece of paper from their plan, write those words, and close the message in a safe place.

“We are all called to serve as a daily act of humility, as a habit of thought,” he said. “To see value in every person we serve.”

New plan. to help others overcome their inability to communicate

After graduation, Bonker plans to use what he has learned to help people in situations like his.

“There are 31 million non-autistic people in the world who are locked in a silent cell,” he said. According to him, the task of his life will be to help them express themselves.

Bonker recently started a nonprofit organization, Communication 4 ALLwhich aims to remove barriers to speechlessness by providing communication resources, especially in schools.

He will also work to educate the public about the millions of people who have suffered from speechless autism. How does he have? previously stressedit is not a cognitive or intellectual disorder.

About 25-30% of children with autism spectrum disorder are speechless or have minimal speech. according to recent studies.

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