The voice of Sarah grows louder

‘Are Your Eyes Listening?’
The voice of Sarah grows louder

by Kathy Jenkins

Frederick News-Post
March 25, 2007
© 2007, Frederick News-Post
http://www.fredericknewspost.com

At the age of 23, Sarah Stup of Frederick (MD), is a critically acclaimed author and advocate. Yet, she lives in a lonely place. That lonely place is autism. Writing is her way out.

“I am alive and a real person when I write,” she types. “Writing is my freedom and peace.”

Diagnosed with autism at a young age, Stup’s disability is considered significant in this spectrum
disorder in that she does not speak and has limited motor skills. Few people appreciated her
intelligence or the extent to which she absorbed her environment until at age 8 she began to
write.

“I was pleased to write daily journal entries at age 8, and I played with words and patterns for
poetry by age 9,” she remembers. “Essays to open minds and hearts [to] people with develop-
mental disabilities came later. Today I am Sarah the writer whose voice is getting louder and
louder.”

Her voice is a “paper voice” and that paper is the holder of who she is. Paper speaks “to eyes that hear.” Her own personal excitement at being able to share her thoughts and knowledge on paper is expressed in a poem she wrote at age 10, titled “I love nighty-night.” It tells of her going to bed with “much education” in her head; that she has learned a lot of things and has information in her mind.

Dumb Sarah is gone.
Smart Sarah is here.
Wake up Sarah,
for the day calls out
with a great big shout!
Do you understand?
Yes, and I found out how to tell!

The title of her newly released self-published book, “Are Your Eyes Listening?” challenges the
reader to hear her voice — a voice that is heartwarming and heart-wrenching in a collection of
poems, reflections and essays for adults.

“Because of autism I have no sounding voice and typing is my only voice,” writes the author. “To hear my silent words, your eyes must listen.”

Stup’s dream of becoming a writer began in her teen years as shared in a poem, “Autism,” written when she was 13. In describing autism, she writes in part that

It is reading and typing, hoping to have friends but being
disgusting and lonely.

It is about planning and dreaming about being a writer and
then thinking it will not be my safety net for hope and a
future.

It is being partly alive and partly dead.

Many have encouraged her along the journey from writer to published author as she shares on the acknowledgment page of her book:

“God’s blessings. Family’s love. Beth Mende Conny for editorial assistance. Aaron Notarianni Stephens and The Arc of Frederick County, Maryland, for mentoring, creative writing internships, futures planning and connections. The Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) for training and resources, the Reach Independence Through Self-Employment (RISE) grant, and for help in setting up her publishing company. Jean Peterson Design.”

The cover of “Are Your Eyes Listening?” recently won a gold ADDY from the Greater Frederick Advertising Federation. Designer Emily Dorr of Jean Peterson Design, Frederick, created the book cover. The American Advertising Federation conducts the ADDY Awards beginning with local districts. The book cover is now being judged at the regional level and could advance to the national level as well.

When asked what criteria was used for creating this volume of work, Stup answers, “These are pulled out from many years of typing and planning to open a shell long enough to let others find out that it is not empty.”

She hopes readers will open their minds and hearts as whole communities could learn that those people with disabilities and other differences are “real people inside bodies that work differently.”

Her work has been embraced by families, educators and professionals in the disabilities and mental health communities. Her books (including “Do-si-Do with Autism” for children) can be used as inspirational gifts; to increase autism awareness and the importance of community inclusion; as learning tools for teachers, civic and church groups; and for group discussions and workshops.

The compilation “Are Your Eyes Listening?” remains unique in that it addresses universal themes like love, meaning, the desire to belong and the need to connect—therefore appealing to all.

“I really love to reach out with words to build a new exotic garden where two worlds meet and differences are not feared,” types Stup.

“The words can change minds.”

 

To read excerpts from her books or to order books, visit SarahStup.com.