I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a person with autism and I am nonspeaking. I found my voice on April 3, 2007 through facilitated communication. Please understand that this changed my whole life. I became a real person who had something to say and dreams for a real future.

I was not allowed to use facilitated communication at two high schools in Fresno and Clovis. This was unacceptable to my parents and me, so I started attending Crescent View West Charter High School in Fresno. Here my intellect was valued and respected. I was finally able to receive a real education. I graduated in June of 2011 and I am so appreciative to the staff at Crescent View West for their belief in me, and their willingness to allow me to use facilitated communication to complete my work and receive a real high school diploma.

After graduating from high school, I began my college life at Willow International, which is now called Clovis Community College. The staff was very welcoming and fully accepted my mode of communication.  I then transferred to Fresno City College, where my counselor and instructors believed in my intelligence. After much work and perseverance, I graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts-Social Sciences on May 18, 2018.

Attending college for the first time was a dream come true for me.  What really made it very special was every counselor and instructor presumed competence from the first time they met me. I did not have to prove that even though I was nonspeaking, my brain was capable of working and learning. This was so amazing to me after many years of special education administrators telling my parents that I was retarded.

I must say that I have been so fortunate to be  surrounded by people who love me and have supported me during the darkest of times. My parents never gave up on me. Kathryn Wage has been my advisor and supporter for 20+ years. She has been there for me during good times and challenging ones.  Emily Nusbaum is the fighter I need in my corner when I am confused by the current climate involving supported typing. Mr. Hill, my constitutional law instructor at FCC, was willing to stand up for me to help me meet my graduation requirements. Leslie Silva, my FCC counselor, always believed in my abilities and helped me stay on course to graduate. My angel, Janna Woods, helped me find my voice 11 years ago. Without Janna, my life would be very different today.

My next goal is to transfer to Fresno State University in Fall 2019.  I will major in social sciences and hope to craft my own major to become an advocate for the nonspeaking.

I am excited to begin the next chapter in my life. I know it will be difficult at times but I will do the best I can with the support of my team.

Kayla Takeuchi

Charity Crossley, BA

Digital Media Coordinator

Academic Program Coordinator