Sarah Stup: About Friendship

Sarah Stup, born in Frederick, Maryland, in 1983, was diagnosed as autistic at an early age. Stup’s disability is considered significant; she does not speak and has limited motor skills. At age 8, she began writing by pointing to letters on an alphabet sheet to spell out words. She now uses a variety of typing devices to converse and work. Stup’s writing skills were further developed during a writing internship at the Arc of Frederick County (Maryland), while she was in her final year of high school.

Currently, Stup has published two books: Do-si-Do with Autism (for children); and Are Your Eyes Listening? Collected Works (for adults). Stup is now at work on her third book, Paul and His Beast, which is for middle school-aged children.

Stup has also launched “Sarah’s Keepsake Collection” of gift booklets. The collection includes Heart and Spirit: Words to comfort, inspire and share, and Nest Feathers: A celebration of family, home, and memories shared. Although Stup’s books deal with the experience of autism, each also touches on universal themes like love, personal meaning and the need to belong.

Stup has been featured on TV and DVDs, in The Baltimore Sun, the Frederick News-Post, Baltimore’s Child and Exceptional Parent magazine. Features about Stup have also appeared throughout the Web and in publications for advocacy groups like the Autism Society of America.

Today, from her hometown of Frederick, Maryland, Stup devotes her time to writing and advocating for people with disabilities. Her mission is to sensitize lawmakers, educators and the community at large to the barriers that those with disabilities face in gaining acceptance.

This is a question asked by a teacher at ‘Ask Sarah!’ on Facebook

Jean Lawson:

As I am planning for a new school year, I have ideas for developing friendship among my students, many of whom are nonverbal. Sarah Stup, what do you remember from elementary school about wanting or having a group of friends? How can I best facilitate this?

Sarah:

It was sad to go without a voice to school where voices make and keep friends. And typed messages are not fast enough for others. It can be lonely. Sometimes kids backed away from my autism. Other times, though, kids found me inside and were with me. It makes a big difference if they are educated about what our confusing world is like (see Autism Friendship Kit FB page below).

I do love having friends, but with no fast voice for teasing and fun, it is not easy to keep friends. I hope to have more as years pass.

For me, computer friends work out nicely because I have the time I need and my words are polite, unlike my body that does what it pleases without my permission.

Thank you for your question.

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