JUDY CHINITZ, MS, MS
NEW YORK STATE LICENSED, SPECIAL EDUCATION
CERTIFIED S2C PRACTITIONER
My son, Alex, was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old and spent his entire school career in programs for the profoundly cognitively disabled. As a special educator myself, I did everything I knew - and learned what I didn't know - to try to teach Alex even one academic skill, and give him some means of expressing himself. I spent those 21 school-age years failing to do either. While Alex seemed to have some receptive language, his expressive language was limited to just a few words, most of which were unintelligible.
When Alex turned 21 and aged out of the public school system, I placed him in a daycare program for those with severe cognitive disability. As far as I knew, his functioning level was that of a preschooler at best. I love my son more than anything on earth, and thought I was doing the right thing when I sat him in front of Thomas the Tank Engine videos and read him Disney princess stories. But...
In July of 2019, when Alex was 25 1/2 years old, I discovered a method of teaching Alex to spell using a letter board. It was mind blowing! I learned, then, that all the motor impairments I had recognized in my son all these years - the inability to control his eye movements, the inability to point normally, the inability to control volitional motor movements - had prevented him, for his entire life, from showing me that he has both normal language and exceptional intelligence. He didn't just know his letters, I discovered, but had been reading since he was 2 years old and knew more than I could ever have imagined!
At 27, Alex can now participate in life in a way I could never have dreamed of: real interaction with his mother and brother, friends, conversation, games, education, are all now his. In August, 2021, he passed New York State's high school equivalency exam (TASC) with distinction - and we are now discussing what kind of college program he may be interested in attending
If I had not witnessed what I have witnessed, I would not have believed it either. In fact, when I began this process, I did it only because I never could bring myself NOT to try everything...not really because I believed Alex had intact language and cognition.
For obvious reasons then, I have devoted myself to bringing the gift of communication to everyone I possibly can.
As both a parent and a professional, I can only say to you that you don't know until you have tried this. I had spent 25 1/2 years of my son's life failing him because everything I thought I knew was wrong. I didn't really know my own child.
I feel fortunate that my education and experience equips me to offer you this possibility, because you may not know your loved one as well as you think you do either.
Hello, my name is Bryant Garrido. I am the first generation of an immigrant family that came from Guatemala. I was born in Stamford, CT and have 2 younger brothers: Dennis and Alejandro. I am a kind, caring, and compassionate person with a huge passion for learning and becoming a better person everyday - bettering myself but also, trying to better the lives of those around me. I have an incredible desire and will to accomplish that goal. My greatest show of willpower was when I lost over 100 pounds in 1 year! After watching my friend, Alex, do the incredible things he’s done, I have experienced a new surge of motivation. He has inspired me to push myself further in my weight loss goals, in my career goals - in my life, in general.
In the summer of 2020, my best friend, who works as a communication partner for Alex, introduced me to his friend, having told me for months about how remarkable was Alex. I was absolutely amazed by Alex's intelligence and his achievements. I too began working with Alex and got to watch him ace exam after exam on online classes. Some days, I would just sit and watch Judy teaching students and I was even more inspired by the work she is doing. She has helped so many students talk! I’ll never forget the day I saw a student of hers talk for the first time. It was truly inspiring and such a wonderful, and actually indescribable, experience.
Working with Alex has inspired me to help others and to be a spelling to communicate practitioner. I want to be able to help other people the way I help Alex and I want to be able to help gain a voice for those who cannot talk, but definitely have something to say.