A young college student delivered a powerful valedictorian speech on Sunday without even speaking.
After being diagnosed with autism at 15 months old, Elizabeth Bonker, 24, lost her ability to talk, according to Wesh.
However, she did not allow this to stop her.
In front of more than 500 of her fellow classmates Bonker was able to give a speech through a text-to-speech computer program.
“I know something about shared achievements because I am affected by a form of autism that doesn’t allow me to speak. My neuro motor issues also prevent me from tying my shoes or buttoning a shirt without assistance,” Bonker said.
Bonker continued to open up during her speech and shared that she typed her speech with one finger with the help of a communication partner holding a keyboard.
“I am one of the lucky few non speaking autistics who have been taught to type. That one critical intervention unlocked my mind from its silent cage enabling me to communicate and to be educated like my hero Hellen Keller,” she said.
She went on to share how she has struggled her whole life “with not being heard or accepted.” She was discriminated against by the principal at her high school who told a staff member, “The retard can’t be valedictorian” which made the front of the local newspaper.
“Yet today here I stand,” Bonker said.
Bonker shared her dream with her classmates which is “communication for all.”
“There are 31 million non-speakers with autism in the world who are locked in a silent cage. My life will be dedicated to relieving them from suffering in silence and to giving them voices to choose their own way,” she said.
Even with our limitations God can still use us. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
“God gave you a voice. Use it,” Bonker said.
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