Hello and welcome!
My name is Grant Blasko, and I am 18 years old. Thanks for taking the time to view my website. Here, I have posted lots of information about my life, my interests, and my hopes for the future. Conversation and connection are my greatest goals, and it's really hard to repeat myself too. Hopefully, this site will help others get to know me, so I can spend more of my time getting to ask good questions of others.
Here are some basics.....
I was born just outside Washington D.C. in Virginia. I moved to Maryland at age 4, went to private schools until age 10, then public school from 4th grade on. My family moved to Washington (Yes, the state across the country from D.C.!) halfway through my 8th-grade year.
Moving from Maryland to Washington State in February of 2017 was a huge adjustment. Finishing middle school in a new place was great in some ways and really hard in others. I am a junior in high school now, so that means I have been facing the same fears and hopes as my fellow classmates for a while. It helps to talk about this stuff with other teens, so I am always willing to swap stories. One thing that has been interesting about my junior year, is the opportunity to participate in Running Start.
Activites and Interests
Like most teens, I have a wide range of interests and activities that I enjoy. I write about all of the things I have been involved in here.
Autism and AAC
So, it is true I have autism, but this is only one part of who I am. Autism is different for everyone, but there are a lot of myths I run into all the time too. Despite what you may have heard, it does NOT mean I don't want to be around people or in the middle of things! I'm actually an extrovert on the inside, with a sincere appreciation for experiencing new things. So, for a better understanding of how I view autism click here.
I don't talk in the traditional way. I use what is called AAC strategies. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It basically means that instead of speech, I rely on using glances, facial expressions, gestures, pointing, and most importantly, I need to use technology in the form of a letter board, iPad, or a computer to craft messages that are read or played aloud. I have been able to type to communicate this way since 2011. For more information about interacting with people who use AAC, click here.
Texting for Life
In some ways, typing text all the time isn't so different from how other teens communicate. My movement and attention challenges just make it harder for me to coordinate my eyes and hands, and I may need an adult with me to help with certain things.
Typing to communicate was hard for me just a few years ago. I've needed a lot of coaching and personal persistence to get better. Now, my average day is filled with typing to converse with others and complete schoolwork, but I enjoy being out, spending time with friends and new people. Traveling is my ultimate passion. Foreign language translation apps on the iPad have made it possible for me to use AAC effectively even when I don't speak the language!
Personal Goals and Autism Advocacy
Right now, I am working my way through high school, with an eye on a college degree. I'm not sure yet what field I see myself working in someday, but I have an interest in science and writing.
Because of my communication style and my autism, I've been welcomed into a community with lots of disability advocates, educators, and science professionals. Many of these people have become cherished mentors to me. I am lucky. Many kids with non-speaking autism are not as lucky.
My future has opened up because of the dedicated work of many. I have a great admiration for leaders in various civil rights movements throughout history. Many different groups of people have been marginalized by race, gender, or ability level, but their tireless advocacy efforts have led to many great strides as well as lessons learned.
Over the past several years, I have been invited to present my perspectives to many audiences. As a novice in disability advocacy work, I hope to continue learning from mentors, while offering my contributions to positive change for those who are still without a voice.