The Right to Communicate


The world is a hostile place for people who can’t talk with words. Many people don’t listen to body language, signals or even temper tantrums. They often see “behaviors” as something to extinguish instead of a person’s desperate attempt to communicate.

Behaviors = Communication

TASH, an organization of professionals, advocates and parents, passed a resolution written by Bob Williams about the right to communicate: even if it means the person takes a longer time to give their message; uses body language or augmented devices; and especially if they need another person to help facilitate the message. Here is a link to their resolution:

The right to communicate is the means by which all other rights are realized and is, in itself, a basic human right. (TASH resolution on the Right to Communicate.)

Anne McDonald – Right to Communicate

Communication falls into the same category as food, drink and shelter – it is essential for life, and without it life becomes worthless. (Anne McDonald)

I spoke about Anne McDonald in an earlier post on Climbing Every Mountain entitled: Until Eternity: Anne McDonald. Anne was a pioneer who spent 14 years in an institution–mainly because she couldn’t communicate. Read her inspiring story: The Right to Communicate.

Autism Banner[/caption]

The Autism Society, Area 23a and AMC theaters present the documentary WRETCHES & JABBERERS to commemorate National Autism Awareness Month in April.


Tracy and Larry in Japan

Tracy and Larry on World Tour

WRETCHES & JABBERERS is a poignant narrative directed by Academy Award winner Gerardine Wurzburg that follows two men with autism, Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, as they embark on a global quest to change attitudes about disability, intelligence and communication.

Larry Bissonette is an award winning advocate and “outsider” artist. For more information on the Wretches and Jabberers official blog and examples of Larry’s written and visual art. Check out: Bissonette’s blog and biography.

About W & J name

The origin of the film title, “Wretches & Jabberers” emerged in Finland from conversations by Larry, Tracy and Antti (a friend).

As the group had lunch at a sidewalk cafe, Antti humorously declares the world is divided into “Wretches” – those with limited speech – and “Jabberers” – those who can speak freely.

The next day at the conference, Antti asks the audience to “dispel the darkness around us poor wretches. Take us for real people. Don’t sideline us.”

The video Wretches & Jabberers is about the life-sustaining power of relationships–the personal connections people make through communication. It also vividly demonstrates the power of personal assistants and communication partners.

Official Trailer of W & J


Soundtrack for W & J

Soundtrack for Wretches and Jabberers

About W & J Soundtrack

This limited edition CD features 20 original songs written and produced by J. Ralph in collaboration with award winning artists: Antony, Devendra Banhart, Paul Brady, Bonnie Bramlett, Vashti Bunyan, Martin Carthy, Judy Collins, Lila Downs, Vincent Gallo, David Garza, Ben Harper, Scarlett Johannson, Nic Jones, Norah Jones, Leah Siegel, Carly Simon, Stephen Stills, Ben Taylor and Bob Weir.

All profits from the sale of this Limited Edition Soundtrack helps promote the message of W & J. and people with autism. Click here if you are interested in purchasing the soundtrack.

Sensory Friendly Films

Some people with autism have problems going to a typical theater. Some families are reluctant to take their family member for fear they will make noise and disturb other patrons and they will be embarrassed. Based on a request from a parent, the AMC Movie theatres developed a partnership with the Autism Society to promote sensory friendly film experiences in their theatres.

AMC Sensory Friendly Films:

Auditoriums show new releases without the pre-show advertisements or movie trailers.

* The house lights in the auditorium are turned up,

* The sound turned down.

* Guests are invited to get up, dance, walk, shout and sing.

WRETCHES & JABBERERS will have the AMC Sensory Friendly Films program. For a list of locations near you as well as Larry and Tracy’s speaking schedules (click here).

“We are each an individual in our own way–not a label.”

Life is what people make it but without community it is dark and dismal. . . . The community begins with communication.”

Tracy Thresher, self-advocate and documentary film star who types and speaks to communicate (Wretches and Jabberers).


For additional stories about people who talk in different voices and different ways visit

SPEAK UP! Add you voice in the comments.

Do you agree with Tracy that a “community begins with communication?” Are you a “Jabberer”? Will you participate in seeing the movie, buying the soundtrack, or inviting Tracy and Larry to speak?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
All my best,