Talking Fingers Volume 2 celebrates and explores the neurodiversity challanges

Making the best use of apps: The non-verbal autistic authors of Talking Fingers Volume 2
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

It is fascinating to see how technology, such as apps, helps individuals with non-verbal autism express themselves, bridges communication gaps and provides insight into their thoughts and perspectives. Talking Fingers: Volume 1, edited by Padma Jyothi and Chitra Paul in 2022, played a significant role in shedding light on this aspect, not only for those unfamiliar with non-verbal autism but also for parents who gained new insights into their children’s experiences and perspectives.

Padma Jyothi is the lone editor for Talking Fingers Vol 2 Voices of Indian Non-Speaking Autistics, a poignant edition delving into the experiences and viewpoints of non-verbal autistic individuals, focusing on their stories and perspectives.

Expanding on the format of the first book, the second volume presents the 16 co-authors’ answers to a set of questions, with additional prompts allowing them to share personal mantras and sources of happiness. Answering a set of 25 questions, the co-authors respond to topics such as the realisation of their condition, their acceptance, communication journey, life after learning to communicate, happy moments, likes and dislikes, views on neuro-diversity and others.

Meaningful insights

Padma Jyothi includes her experiences as an autism parent in the book.

Padma Jyothi includes her experiences as an autism parent in the book.
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Many views expressed by the authors are eye-openers. Hear what 14-year-old Mithul Sandeep says: “Medical experts say I am autistic. Of course, I have some limitations, like difficulty in speaking and a couple of behavioural problems, and they call it ASD. I believe every individual has some limitation.”

Says Padma, “By showcasing these insights, readers will realise how similar we are. I tried highlighting the common universal needs shared by all individuals, regardless of their verbal ability or sensory struggles. The underlying message emphasises the universal desire for friendship, understanding, and respect.

In the Editor’s Note, Padma writes: “In my two decades of journey as an autism parent, I have seen a lot of positive changes in the way autism is understood better and the tiny sprouts of acceptance and inclusion we see in the Indian society. But for non-speaking autistics, who constitute about 40% of the total individuals with autism, life has not changed much.” This book is a valuable resource for increasing awareness and understanding of non-verbal autism within communities.

To the sceptics, Padma reminds: “Long before they learned to communicate, they had a thinking mind that analysed and interpreted and felt a myriad of emotions.”

The foreword is written by the Bengaluru-based 18-year-old author and blogger Aditi Sowmyanarayan, a non-speaking autistic, who uses Avaz, a text-to-speech app to communicate. Aditi encourages people to read the book with an open mind and introduce an alternative mode of communication to someone who needs it.

For Padma, Talking Fingers Vol 2 further extends the legacy of the project, demonstrating that with support and nurturing environments, individuals with autism can thrive and become self-advocates and inspirational figures. She says, “Through their voices, we hope to create empathy and promote a future where every individual’s voice is valued and celebrated.”

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