Peyton Goddard has become the first person using facilitated communication to graduate valedictorian from a U.S. college. Her story has been featured in publications such as the San Diego Union-Tribune and she recently co-authored the foreword of a book for K-12 educators entitled Collaborating With Students in Instruction and Decision Making.
Dianne Goddard is a former educator who committed herself to seeking a cure for her daughter's neurological challenges.
Carol Cujec is a freelance writer and college professor.
From Publishers Weekly This book recounts how Peyton Goddard overcame the physical and mental obstacles of severe autism. Peyton's inability to verbally communicate or control her body led to continual misdiagnoses, pity, and segregation from normal education and society. After suffering 21 years of mistreatment, neglect, and disturbing abuse by those supposed to aid her-extended family, doctors, and teachers-Peyton is finally given the chance to express her intelligence and awareness. Through her use of facilitated communication, by which noncommunicative people speak via computer keyboard, Peyton is finally freed not only from her bodily restraints but also from society's pitiful image projected upon her. The book details the Goddard family's extreme highs and lows in dealing with Peyton's progress through fluid narratives from the perspective of her mother, Dianne, interspersed with Peyton's own poetic reactions. From years of being dismissed by the education system as lacking the ability to learn, to eventually graduating from college as valedictorian, Peyton proves that inclusion of disabled people is necessary for their livelihood and growth, regardless of the challenge it presents to society. This debut memoir allows Peyton Goddard to further achieve her goal of helping others in similar positions by spreading her "voice" by virtue of text, the very thing that saved her. (June)
"From the moment I heard Peyton's writings, I have been blessed to experience an opening and understanding about the world and humans beyond what most people know or express. The journey of this family is a teaching of extraordinary love and all the mountain ranges that it can move. Families like the Goddards and those that support them are the teachers of this kind of beautiful challenging journey beyond normal life into the realm of deep dedication to communication. Most people take communication for granted. For some it is a simple task, mastered in an automatic, unconscious way. For some it is a quest. But for all, it is a basic component for a fulfilling meaningful life. I will always be grateful to Peyton for sharing her thoughts and feelings. She is a master teacher of the heart."-Laura San Giacomo, mother, actor, and advocate "I Am Intelligent reads like a beautiful, well-crafted novel. A mother and daughter are separated by an abyss of communication challenges, fear and pain-and an ocean of misinformation. They journey to a deep connection with love, perseverance and courage.
This book will change your notion of autism and loving relationships."-Dr. Anne M. Donnellan, University of San Diego Autism Institute "This well written and remarkable work by Peyton and her mother Dianne is essential not only to the field of autism, but to those working with communication disabilities, those treated severely traumatized people with developmental disabilities, and those championing human rights and fighting for self advocacy and equality."
-Donna Williams, author of Nobody Nowhere: The Remarkable Autobiography of an Autistic Girl
"I Am Intelligent humbles and teaches. Dianne's tenacity and determination to reach her daughter and her refusal to give up, for over two decades, is nothing short of miraculous. Equally remarkable is her courage in writing so honestly about her parenting. Peyton's prose is unlike anything you've ever read: lyrical, poetic, cutting right to the heart. You don't read it so much as feel it. Savor it for its beauty, its power, and for its ultimate message of unity, inclusion and universal love." -Claire and Mia Fontaine, authors of Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back