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“Mentally Retarded” Autistic Mute Breaks Her Silence, Joins Forces with Her Psychologist and Friend to Write Life Affirming Memoir on Living with Autism
Date:4/23/2013

movement initiation."

The goal of facilitated communication (supported typing) is to progress toward independent typing. In the words of Barb, "I work hard every day with several facilitators to accomplish that goal and now type with just one hand touching my back for support to help me initiate movement and overcome my apraxia." The National Institute of Health defines apraxia (called dyspraxia if mild) as a neurological disorder characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned movements despite having the desire and ability to perform them. This includes talking and typing. She continues, "I also struggle with ataxia, which is characterized by imbalance, unsteady walk and tendency to stumble, problems with fine motor movements, and difficulty positioning in space. I often politely ask my brain to please move my hand to do this or that only to be told, 'We’re sorry due to high autism volume we are not able to answer your call at this time. Please try harder later.' These vexations may prevent me from ever being a good driver, a great drunk driver sure, but never good. I am, however, determined to be the best writer I can be and this book is my Rubicon."

When Barb finally realized that it is easier to change herself rather than everyone else, she put learning how to type on her own as priority number one. That focus resulted in hundreds of hours of practice and real improvement.

The first part of this book was written by Barb using facilitated communication. Lois typed her chapters by herself, as she is, in Barb's endearing terms, less interesting.

Barb Rentenbach is a writer and advocate for people with disabilities. She is an impassioned presenter concerning Autism, Social Justice, Teacher Training, and Communication. Barb continues rigorous self-education to develop her writing and speaking in order to champion others. She helped create “Greater Living Institute” (
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