Posts Tagged ‘Tracy Thresher’
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Larry and I met the smiling Gretchen in the DC airport on one of our trips to promote the Presumption of Competence. The movie lit a fire in Gretchen to fan the flame of communication supports for a teen she clearly loves. I had the opportunity to meet Gretchen at the Autism Summer Institute in Concord, NH recently. She was there cheering Nick on with his team. Nick also had his Mom with him. Her persistence to arrange for Nick to type with me spoke volumes to me. The persistent nature of parents is critical to making kids push through to communicate. Nick is a blogger like Larry and I. Please take a look at Nick’s blog.
My conversation with Nick began with presenting him with the mostly geared for self-advocacy tee shirt, better suited to parade on legislative red carpets of political change. Nick, will you be the new leading man in Gerry Wurzburg’s professional myth-breaking promotion of her Presumption of Competence library?
Nick, I present you with the newest version of the Green Mountain Self Advocates tee shirt. Wear it proudly my friend for it represents the passing of the “No more R word” bill into law by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin last year. No longer will children in Vermont be referred to in derogatory language like the cruelest of all, retard. The new R word is respect.
For more information about The Respectful Language Law, check out my pal, Max Barrows, in his video on the Green Mountain Self Advocates website.
It is my mission to crumble institutional entrapment that continues to exist not only literally but in old thinking that people without typical voices have no desire for love or friendships. It is definitely untrue. Our need for friendship is no different than for neurotypical people; the key as with most things in life is interconnected. The key is communication. The other piece is open mindedness and opportunities to connect.
Photos from Tracy’s conversation with Nick:
Monday, May 21st, 2012
The Green Mountain Self Advocates annual conference was this past May 14th and 15th. The theme of the conference was “Get Rid Of The “R” Word.” That is a very important mission this group has taken on. The word retarded must be rid of and the intelligence in each of us should be shown under a bright light.
I was part of two workshops that covered “I Have The Right to Communicate” and “You Too Can Be In The Movies”. The team work with my typing self-advocate friends really paid off and it was a great group presentation with each of us sharing our thoughts about our right to communicate and answer questions from the audience which was peppered with intelligent advocates. The group did a wonderful job and I am very proud of my partners in crime.
I had the wonderful opportunity to present with Mark Utter and Larry Bissonnette about making movies. Mark is trying to make a movie about his life; the name is “I am in here” and of course Larry and me are movie stars extraordinaire of “Wretches and Jabberers”. To be in the place of mentoring other self-advocates is very rewarding. Let’s join forces my friends to unveil the intelligence on the inside of us.
Friday, May 18th, 2012
I am movie star Tracy Thresher moving my thoughts about being in the movie Wretches and Jabberers Stories from the Road. It was a tremendous experience, to have a camera follow me for hours at a time capturing the real Tracy. It really can be nerve racking too to have people watch your every move and tell you to stop in the middle of a thought or type something again because the camera ran out of film.
When filming the Phil Scott scene the director, Gerry Wurzburg, made Harvey and me walk up and down the Vermont State Capital steps a bunch of times with her camera man shooting several angles. Knowing that she was looking for a certain shot helped, but it was a pain in the butt too!
I learned a lot about movie making, traveling, and meeting new people. I had a great time with my partner-in-crime Larry Bissonnette moving big thoughts and eating great food. By the way, make sure you get good food when making a movie with that you will have good energy and focus for long days of shooting film in the bright lights.
Friday, October 28th, 2011
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to stand before my legislators at the Washington County Mental Health legislative breakfast. My good friend, Kyle, presented beautifully the connection between communication and productivity. Because of the communication support he receives, he has worked as a legislative intern which gave him the opportunity to work on the Respectful Language Law. Our state now is looking to work on how to fill gaps due to the impact Irene had on our state. It has come down to communities being open to supporting one another. Another part of progress is recognizing the willingness of service recipients to be part of the problem solving. My state is leading the way; pay attention to Vermont. My piece to the legislators follows:
Supporting the Right to Communicate for people with Significant Disabilities
Good morning. I am Tracy Thresher from Barre, Vermont. I would like to talk to you about the Washington County Facilitated Communication (FC) Task Force. The group formed in 2008. We are a group of individuals who type to communicate. We advocate for people with communication challenges, for Quality of Life initiatives and for increased public awareness.
How would you feel if you had no voice? It is the hardest part of dealing with life, in the way people make the assumption that we do not have intelligence. Our group works to do outreach and advocacy for ourselves and others. As my idol Anne MacDonald said “Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say.” Understanding Anne’s statement paired with knowing communication is the right of all is necessary. Having the support of people like Master Trainer, Harvey Lavoy, is the primary reason I have the communication needed to be successful. I urge our legislators to make communication a priority for all. Thank you.
Category General Thoughts | Tags: Tags: advocacy, autism, change, communication, disability, independence, intelligence, support, Tracy Thresher, Vermont,
Monday, September 26th, 2011
This post is a conversation between Tracy and his friend, Scott. Scott is a recent high school graduate, who is now maneuvering the adult services world. Like Tracy his communication is at the forefront and he has a passion to educate others around autism, communication and inclusion. Tracy and Scott meet on a regular basis. It’s fair to say that Tracy is Scott’s mentor, and now they are at a place in their relationship where they are trying to network in order to be more productive about educating others. This particular conversation came up at a mentoring session, and the two agreed that it could be a powerful blog if they co-wrote it.
Tracy: Fantastic friend, Scott, is joining the Intelligence Parade. Of course, he has been on the mission of educating locally but now he is going world-wide to spread his pebbles of great intelligence.
Scott: My desire is to be a part of this important mission. I have had to be in the face of misunderstanding my entire life. Tracy is an inspiration to me; we are pals who are starting to join forces so we can blow a hole in misconceptions. I am excited to be part of something bigger and know that I can help others like me.
Tracy: Scott has been involved on the mission of planting kernels of justice in the local high school which I graduated from. The education went both ways; Scott taught as much, if not more, than he learned. Now is our time to break down the walls in all schools.
Scott: My high school experiences were ok but mostly staff did not know how to support my communication. I found myself without trained staff and we often did filler stuff, like passing the time with puzzles, when I could have been doing more productive learning. I think my experience turned positive when we had trained staff but usually they did not stay long. I think the man Tracy can attest to this. So, what we need are well trained people who can respect our weirdness because we can’t always tell you how we need to be supported. When I graduated I felt free and I have people in my life who understand me, like Harvey, Rachel and now Kati, much needed new support person who has not run away yet. I type to you to show my intelligence and hope to make new friends on this Parade of Intelligence. Tracy is heading up the parade but I am right beside him.
Tracy: Although things have not become ideal for students with communication challenges in Vermont; it is in the consciousness of educators that supporting communication is the key to unlocking intelligence. Puzzles are not education! It is our mission to educate the educational system to help students who use alternative modes of communication. I will give the platform to Scott for his wrap up thoughts; I am positive you will hear from him in future advocacy projects.
Scott: World platforms allow us to instill the first hand insights for better understanding of who we strive to be. I wish to join forces with Larry and Tracy and all other partners to give our voices power where once there was vulnerability. This is my life’s mission to break down the walls of misconception.
Category General Thoughts | Tags: Tags: advocacy, autism, communication, friendship, hope, independence, intelligence, presume competence, Tracy Thresher, Vermont,
Monday, August 8th, 2011
My mind is racing with thoughts pounding out my ears today. I have been put in a situation where my self-regulation skills are being tested. My team, who I love, is in disarray and not together because of much needed vacations. I write to you all today to show that my focus is still here because typing is my outlet just as off loading through speech is many of your outlets. I think I am in a place of anxiety but I assure you I am a man in control through my finger tip. I am inspired today because I have determination not to let my autism be King for the day. I have trusty side kicks, Rachel and Dotty the boss woman here to keep me in check so my body and mind can be at the same pace. Anxiety is a downfall, but typing it out is much more productive. I am looking forward to seeing my team together again but the rough weeks without them are necessary to test my ability to maintain control over my being. My aura is getting brighter today — see you all on the road next week. Watch out Virginia here we come!
Friday, July 1st, 2011
Being able to have the opportunity to mentor has been the most wondrous experience of my life. I have been blessed to mentor amazing students. They are the future of communication; they will carry on the legacy of everyone’s right to have a voice. I have been working as a mentor for many moons and I think we have all helped one another find our voices. It is important to me to lead by example. I want each of my mentees (5 students in junior high and high school) to know it is critical to exercise their right to vote. Let your voice be heard by going to the voting booth. Learn who our political heroes are by talking to them. Tell your stories.
I wish in my heart that I had a mentor when I was in school but now I look back and realize I can’t dwell on the what-ifs. I think all schools should be more open to building mentoring with us because we have mighty stories and excellent wisdom to share. What comes to mind when I think of what it is to be a mentor is possessing the perseverance to be a leader to those in need of guidance and purpose. I have found my purpose in life; it is to be a teacher, a mentor or a resource to share with others.
You may think the cards we have been dealt are rather lousy at times but part of being a good mentor is thinking beyond and using our experiences to educate and inspire. I am not in a place to instruct students on their life goals, however I can share with them thoughts of encouragement to help them on their path.
Throwing out my pebbles of intelligent thinking to others, creating ripples, building the tide of change is how I view mentoring. I encourage you, self advocates, to try throwing out your own tiny pebble of help to others. It will not only help others it will make you more happy than you imagine.
Now I pass the baton to my students who have taught me how to be patient, kinder and have given me hope for the future.
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
It has been the craziest weather in Vermont over the past week. My thoughts are with those in my hometown of Barre who have suffered loss of security in their lives. The flooding caused a lot of chaos for the cities of Barre and the beautiful Montpelier. For a small city like Barre trying to rebuild the downtown has been hard to think through. Work on the Main Street plan began only to get laid aside for the work of mud hauling and pumping water from basements.
Now I turn inward to consider the impact on services for low income people who are largely affected when storming causes such destruction for they are often the ones living in the areas mostly affected by natural disaster. One thing I can’t get out of my mind is the people who have limited resources in the first place may have no home. I have no answers but I want my community to have faith in our ability to lift up our cities in the planning of our budgeting for the services provided to those who are in perilous situations of dealing with resource limitations. It needs to be on the minds of our legislators when they make any decisions on the budget for the next fiscal year.
I hope my neighbors know I am praying they will soon be on the path to a brighter future.
Category General Thoughts | Tags: Tags: autism, Barre, blog, community, faith, flooding, Montpelier, rebuilding, Tracy Thresher, Vermont, wretches & jabberers,
Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Many people have tried to help with my residential situation. I would like to clarify my search is plagued with difficulties of lack of knowledge in the way I would like to be supported. My family is my greatest place of stability but my idea of independence is having my own home to hang my hat, to set up in the way I choose. Mom has been there my entire life to help me on my path to being the independent thinker I want to be.
It is my time to search for the place I want to live that is both independent oriented but gives me the right thinking type of support I need. By that I mean it is necessary for me to have physical cues to get my body moving not bossy final answers made by others. My dream is to be in my own place where I make choices of the groceries I wish to buy; the decorative theme is of my choosing; the communication is open; the weekends’ activities fill my desire for exercise.
The most important thing is the commitment to learning how to support my typing. I have to let it be known that my family would never turn me from their home; this is my desire in my search for being in control of my life that I want to make for myself. I know my fans mean well to help in my residential search. For me it is more than a hook to hang my hat on; it is being in peace in my way of living where I make the house rules in cooperation with my like minded roommate.
Friday, May 20th, 2011
This week I had the opportunity to travel to Hartford, Connecticut with Harvey to show the movie to a group of nursing professionals. To be in the midst of intelligent professionals as an educator taught me I need to keep plugging along on my mission to educate the World about the presumption of competence. Many wonderfully brilliant questions erupted volcanic thoughts of how our World is in the right place and time to let the ashes of old thinking blow out on the winds of change.
The nursing professionals I spoke to have a better understanding of people who may communicate in a way that is different from the traditional way. It helps my mind to know the medical profession finds my work to be of interest. It is important for the medical profession to be educated on alternative communication so all people get the best medical attention possible. For myself, I educated my primary doctor who is now my medical hero because he listens to my typing and is open to my suggestions. For example, I wanted to go more holistic and he was receptive.
I recommend to people who have communication that is not traditional that you be the lead person in educating your medical professionals. We need to be the leaders of eliminating old ways of having others interpret how we feel solely on our outer appearance.
Tracy & Harvey pose with DDNA Conference Attendees