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Non-Verbal Autistic College Valedictorian Delivers Commencement Speech

Twenty-four-year-old valedictorian Elizabeth Bonker could speak as a toddler, but suddenly, at 15 months old, her “words were inexplicably taken from” her. Now, 23 years later, she has graduated at the top of her class from Rollins College after learning to type, which has allowed her to communicate and learn.


She utilized text-to-speech technology to deliver an inspiring commencement speech. “God gave you a voice. Use it,” “And no, the irony of a non-speaking autistic encouraging you to use your voice is not lost on me. Because if you can see the worth in me, then you can see the worth in everyone you meet.”  For her senior thesis, she founded a nonprofit called Communication 4 All, to “champion efforts to ensure communication is available to all non-speakers with autism.”

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