Elizabeth Bonker, a High School Principal With Autism
Elizabeth Bonker, a 22 year old high school graduate and social innovation major, has a degree from Rollins College. She is the first person with autism to earn a college degree. She graduated with honors and has been chosen as a valedictorian of her class. She has been a speaker, an author, a lyricist, and a TEDMED award recipient. She recently launched a non-profit organization called Communication 4 ALL to help non-speaking autistic children gain access to education and communication. She will soon take her message to the next level, touring the United States in the name of a worthy cause.
Having autism is not a bad thing. In fact, many autistic children are able to read with lightning speed and comprehension. But for others, such as Elizabeth Bonker, who has non-speaking autism, their ability to communicate can be hampered by neurological motor issues, such as problems with the hands or fingers. That’s where the text-to-speech computer program comes in. This technology allows non-speaking autistic children to read and write with the assistance of a speech generating device.
This nifty little device allowed Elizabeth to give her commencement speech, a feat she had previously attempted but failed. This is just one of many achievements that Bonker has accomplished over the past two years. Along with her impressive academics, she has become an advocate for non-speaking autistic children, and is the founder of the non-profit organization Communication 4 ALL. In the coming months, she will travel the country to promote her new organization, and educate the public about the fact that non-speaking autistic children can learn to read and write, and are just as smart as their peers.
One of the best parts of her journey so far is the support she has received from friends, teachers, and classmates. As she said in a recent WKMG-TV News interview, she has been “overwhelmed” by it. In fact, she estimates that there are 31 million people with non-speaking autism in the world, and she is on a mission to make sure they get their voices heard. This includes giving them the tools to be the best they can be.
Aside from her college accomplishments, she has also blazed the trail in the world of activism, and the best way to do so is through education. This is why Bonker has authored a book, given a TEDMED talk, and plans to start a nonprofit organization that provides non-speaking autistic children with the tools they need to become literate and literate adults. Aside from providing a pathway to communication for children who may never have had it, the organization is designed to empower parents to do the same for their kids.
The one-fingered ol’ lady has had her ups and downs, but she has risen to the occasion and is now on a mission to inspire other non-speaking autistic children to realize their potential. With her new nonprofit organization, she has launched a series of programs that will benefit millions of children across the country.