Two years ago, Stephen Hartman planned to shoot a video showing different stages of autism, but he got sidetracked at Syracuse University.
It was there that he learned about Kayla Takeuchi, a nonverbal autistic teenager who had learned to communicate using a keyboard in a style of “speaking” known as facilitated communication.
Hartman, who is executive director of an Annapolis-based agency that provides services to autistic children, decided to do a video about that concept instead.
The video, “Kayla’s Voice,” won a 2010 Telly Award, which honors local, regional and national cable television programs and videos. Now Hartman’s organization is helping six Maryland families bring the communication concept into their homes.
“People often tell parents of people with autism that if (your child) doesn’t speak by 7 or 8, it’s likely that they’ll never communicate, they’re never going to speak,” said Hartman, executive director of the Whole Self Center. “If you hold that kind of standard and don’t give that person a chance to learn, even the smallest potential is (gone).”