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Morgan views her progression as an advocate for Facilitated Communications in three distinct events that seem more like fate than a dedicated path to this profession. After graduating from college, Morgan was searching for a job and became a substitute teacher to pass the time. As weeks and months went on, she discovered that she loved subbing. This was the first step to what would become her passion. Eventually, she was offered a long-term subbing position that turned into a teaching position, and that is precisely where she met Gentry Groshell. Two of the three steps were complete.

 

Gentry was a student in the class, and quickly stole Morgan’s heart. Gentry is a non-verbal, autistic child whose behaviors can sometimes steal the show. But, when you look past the behaviors, Gentry is a fascinating young lady. She loves music, art, and the ocean, she’s compassionate and kind. People who meet her are quick to say that there’s something about Gentry that draws you in. Morgan and Gentry quickly formed a special bond that couldn’t be broken. She started working with Gentry on the side and became a source Amy - Gentry’s mother - could rely on to help with her daughter.


It was a natural choice for Amy to invite Morgan to the weekend at her home with Marilyn. By that point, Morgan was one of the closest people to Gentry. “Sweet to see my letters. Easy to free my thoughts.” Those words changed the course of Morgan’s life. She knew Gentry. And as she learned how to facilitate communication herself, she realized that rather than pushing the communicator’s arm forward, as is the common critique, the facilitator actually pulls it back - and helps the communicator restrain themselves.


There’s a truckload of science that goes along with this, and when you talk to Morgan, you can hear the passion in her voice for it all. But, in layman’s terms, research shows that the parts of our brain that control our ability to regulate our bodies overfire in people with autism. Meaning, they need help slowing their body down. The words are there - as silent observers in the world around them, they’ve collected years and years of language stored in their brain - they just can’t slow down their brain to get the words out. Like Gentry said, Facilitated Communication frees her thoughts. And, that is exactly the point. The thoughts, opinions, dreams, desires… they’re all there, just waiting to be released. This assumption, that there’s a person behind the behavior, is called “presumed intelligence” and unfortunately, it’s not all that common in the autistic world. But Morgan wants to change that.


When she saw how freeing Facilitated Communication was for Gentry and her friends, Morgan wanted to spread that freedom as far and wide as she could. She is currently a student working on becoming a licensed therapist. Once she’s licensed, her goal is to change the conversation in the autism community. She wants parents and caregivers to know that there’s a way to communicate with their children that goes far beyond managing behaviors. She wants presumed intelligence to be the foundation of interactions with people affected by autism. Her goal is systemic change, and she’s passionate enough to go after it. Change, for Morgan, means giving people with autism a ticket to freedom through Facilitated Communication.

 

 

Photo credit: Rebecca Harvin Photography
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