Sarah Stup (born September 8, 1983) is a critically acclaimed writer from Frederick, Maryland, who writes on the topics of community inclusion, education and her role in the world as a young autistic woman. Stup is also well known as a children's author, poetess, essayist and advocate.
"Because of autism, the thief of politeness and friendship, I have no sounding voice. By typing words I can play with my life and stretch from my world to yours." -Sarah Stup
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.
In 2004, Stup participated in the self-advocacy group Working Together and The Arc of Frederick County Legislative Committee's letter-writing campaign. The campaign aimed to educate lawmakers on legislative decisions that would impact the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families. Stup traveled to Maryland’s State Capital in Annapolis to give testimony opposing House Bill #475. The bill would have promoted the use of institutional respite care and services for people with medical needs, rather than providing services in their own communities. Stup testified before a conference room packed with delegates and concerned citizens from around the state.
"Those with developmental disabilities and other differences are real people inside bodies that work differently. We are worth knowing." -Sarah Stup
Additionally in 2004, Stup received both the Self Advocate of the Year award from The Arc of Maryland and the Frances and Lease Bussard Award for Self-Advocacy.
Stup has also created "Hope's Ingredients," an interactive training tool to support transitioning students and other self-advocates by identifying and following their dreams. Her co-creator was Aaron Stephens, her mentor at The Arc of Frederick County, Maryland. "Hope's Ingredients" has since been used at self-advocacy events, public schools, colleges, individual planning meetings and at conferences designed to create the leaders of tomorrow.
- Do-si-Do with Autism (2006)
- Are Your Eyes Listening? Collected Works (2007)
- Heart and Spirit: Words to comfort, share and inspire (2008)
- Nest Feathers: A celebration of family, home and memories shared (2009)
Do-si-Do with Autism
Do-si-Do with Autism is Stup's first published work and her first children's book. Stup first envisioned the book when she was 10 years old. The book, acclaimed by teachers as well as parents, offers an entertaining and thoughtful way to introduce children to the importance and joy of building meaningful relationships with those who have autism and other developmental disabilities.1
The story revolves around Taylor, the turtle with autism, who sheds light on what it is like to feel pain from the overwhelming movements and sounds around him. His feelings are especially pronounced on square dance day at school. Filled with dread, he retreats to the sidelines and finds solace in his beloved books. To his surprise, however, his classmates follow his lead and, in doing so, begin to focus less on their differences and more on all they have in common.
A Taylor the Turtle Fun Pack DVD, which includes the Do-si-Do with Autism book and related disability awareness and teaching activities, is being produced.
Do-si-Do with Autism was funded by the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, The Arc of Carroll County, the Maryland State Department of Education Division of Rehabilitation Services and The Arc of Frederick County. The book’s illustrators were students Matthew Starchak and Libby Sanders of Stevenson Universityin Maryland (formerly Villa Julie College).
Do-si-Do with Autism debuted at the exhibit “Ramps Over Fear” at Stevenson University in 2006. More than 500 people attended the event, which featured Stup’s writings, illustrations from the book and photos taken of her by Johnny Martyr. Kevin Walla, who was then Stup’s job coach, organized the event.
Are Your Eyes Listening? Collected Works
Are Your Eyes Listening? Collected Works is Stup’s critically acclaimed collection of poetry, essays and reflections. Stup takes readers inside her world to experience the sights, sounds and feel of autism. Her vivid imagery and wrenching language reveals "the beast" (autism) but also the special gifts it imparts, gifts that she says make her the unique person she is.
The book is about more than autism, however. Ultimately, it is a book about life. Stup touches on a wide range of topics: from family to oceans, coffee to snowflakes, writing to love, personal meaning to the need to belong.
Beth Mende Conny, founder of WriteDirections.com, served as consultant on the book. The book’s cover designed by Emily Dorr of Jean Peterson Design of Frederick, Maryland, won a gold ADDY from the Greater Frederick Advertising Federation.
Sarah’s Keepsake Collection
Stup also has written a thematic series of booklets that include poetry, reflections and quotations. Sarah’s Keepsake Collection includes the booklets Heart & Spirit: Words to comfort, inspire and share and Nest Feathers: A celebration of family, home and memories shared.
- Sarah Stup's website
- The Arc of Frederick County website
- "Autism Society of America: Writer & Advocate with Autism Releases Collection of Poetry and Essays"
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