Isabella Santoyo

Isabella is a 20 year-old diploma bound homeschool student. As a limited speaking autistic, Isabella was largely misunderstood due to her sensory and motor differences. Being unable to communicate meant she was often presumed incompetent and her learning consisted of remedial and repetitive tasks in both public and non-public schools.

Learning to communicate by pointing to letters to spell at age 10 changed the course of Isabella’s life. During middle school, Isabella was enrolled in a Catholic school where she experienced full inclusion with the support of a communication partner. Here she gained access to the general education curriculum for the first time.

Having gained confidence as an AAC user, Isabella has presented with her friends in virtual conferences including a Wellspring Guild webinar on friendship, the 38th annual CAL-Tash conference, and the 2021 and 2022 SLI “Summer Leadership Institute” conference as a self advocate alongside internationally recognized inclusion experts. She was a panelist at the CAMA “Communication Always Matter All Ways” virtual conference in May of 2021 and 2022 to share her experiences as an AAC user.

Isabella served as a delegate in the 2021 California Youth Leadership Forum for students with disabilities to further her advocacy and leadership skills. She was nominated and selected as a recipient of a YLF Harry Servidio Memorial Leadership Award.

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