Eli Whitney has an autistic and mute philosopher’s unique point of view of himself, his family, and life with the disabled. When Eli Whitney was young, no one thought he could express himself in words, let alone write, but he learned the alphabet watching Sesame Street on TV. Then a special needs teacher showed him “facilitated communication” using a board that allowed him to spell by pointing to the letters embedded in it. His mother, the poet Louise Grassi Whitney, author of “Wet Welded Together”, meticulously transcribed Eli’s insightful poems to text.
When Eli Whitney turned 13, a special special education teacher taught him how to use facilitated communication to spell words. Eli, born mute and with little control of his muscles, began relaying thoughtful poems on family, politics, and life as an adult. His mother, the poet Louise Grassi Whitney, transcribed the words from a spelling board to handwriting.