Open letter to ASHA from Emma Budway & Benjamin McGann

Emma: My name is Emma Budway,

Ben: and I am Benjamin McGann and we both use spelling to communicate.


Ben & Emma at the ASAN 2016 Gala. where they received the award for Self Advocates of the Year 

Emma: The majority of my and Benjamin’s childhood was spent in countless therapies and special education.

Ben: Each claiming to get through to the autistic child and teach him or her to be normal, or at least their version of normal.

Emma: The problem with that is we are not their version of normal. We do not move, communicate, or learn in conventional or traditional ways. Yet, we are tested and measured in conventional and traditional ways.

Ben: Those tests show results that do not accurately reflect our true intellect or ability to take in and comprehend information. They do reflect, however, the disconnect between brain and body.

Emma: That is where spelling to communicate benefits nonspeaking autistics. It’s not someone simply picking up a letter board and words magically come out,

Ben: It involves rigorous training for the communication partner, and weeks to months and sometimes even years of practice and dedication for the autistic and their family to be able to get to open communication.

Emma: Now that we can, we can tell our families we love them.

Ben: We can tell doctors what hurts.

Emma: We can teach the Neurotypical world about the Neurodiverse.

Ben: If that is taken away, a generation of bright minds will be silenced once again.


Ben & Emma have been friends since preschool, now they have a way to communicate with each other.


Benjamin McGann and Emma Budway

2 thoughts on “Open letter to ASHA from Emma Budway & Benjamin McGann

  1. Benjamin McGann writes “We can tell doctors what hurts.” Recently Brent Sullivan of Pennsylvania also sent an open letter to ASHA in which he wrote how telling doctors what hurts was life-saving. I believe that accumulating more specific information about this issue could counter the exaggerated claim in the May 23, 2018 article in The Conversation about supposedly “a long history of adverse events related to the use of FC” where actually there are just a handful of such adverse events and most if not all can be shown to not really be FC at all. BTW I am the father of 46 year-old Ben with “severe” autism who was first introduced to Facilitated Communication in February 1991 at age 19 and currently has some serious health issues. I can be contacted by email at

  2. Pingback: Autistic young people deserve serious respect and attention — not dismissal as the pawns of others. -

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