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Elizabeth “Liz” Galt is a treasure to everyone who has ever had the joy of meeting this special young lady with a disability.

Diagnosed with autism as a small child, the 25-year-old Farmington resident has gone far beyond what doctors had thought she’d ever be able to accomplish. In addition to her involvement in a wide range of civic events and appointment by a former governor to a state board, Galt has begun another project she believes will make a major difference in the lives of children, youth and adults with autism.

It’s amazing to hear how much Galt has overcome to become an outstanding young adult.

“I was born in Dayton, Ohio, but I moved to Farmington when I was 6 years old,” she said. “I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Whenever I was first diagnosed, they thought I had severe autism because I didn’t talk until I was 6, wasn’t potty trained until I was 8 and couldn’t make full sentences until I was 8.

“I had about 10 different types of therapy when I was a kid to help my autism. My mom was a special ed teacher so she worked with me nonstop. I graduated from Farmington High School in 2012. All my teachers and all my friends and family helped me to be the person I am today.”

And what an incredible person she is.

In October 2017, Galt was one of 30 women appointed by then-governor Eric Greitens to the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. She is an in-demand speaker on autism at schools, colleges and conventions; and has worked with primary, secondary and higher education to provide inclusive learning for students with developmental disabilities. Additionally, Galt was recognized for a project she organized that raised funds for an inclusive playground facility through Parents Advocating Developmental Disabilities in Farmington.

Asked what she likes the most about public speaking, Galt said, “I like educating others about autism and helping them to understand that people with autism and disabilities are just like everybody else. I explain to them what sensory toys are. Just because I use sensory toys doesn’t mean I play with them. It’s a tool to help me in my everyday life — kind of like glasses are tools to help people see and hearing aids are tools to help people hear. They’re just tools to help people with disabilities in their everyday lives.”

While Galt is a very busy woman, she has recently taken on another way to help people with autism.

“I started my iPads For Autism business,” she said. “It’s a non-profit organization. I help kids and adults with non-verbal autism and non-verbal disabilities be able to communicate their wants and needs by using the Proloquo2Go app.

“It also helps them to be able to socialize and interact with their peers. Just because they don’t have a voice doesn’t mean they can’t understand people when they talk behind their backs. They can understand, but they can’t let it out. It’s kind of like being trapped in a duct tape maze. We have to pass the levels of a video game to find our voice.”

Galt said her newest project began several years ago when she raised $4,100 and used the money to purchase and then give away 11 iPads. This year she’s raised around $5,200, given away five iPads and, in her words, “working on number six.”

“I really want to help those with non-verbal autism and non-verbal disabilities have a voice to be heard all over the world,” she said. "That way they can be like everybody else. I’ve noticed a difference in the recipients’ ability to communicate. Their parents cry tears of happiness. I had one mother who sent me a message saying, ‘My daughter typed in ‘where’s my daddy at?’ It’s very cool about how they can actually make conversation using this app. It’s one of the best apps available for this kind of disability.”

So, how does Galt choose those who receive a free iPad loaded with the Proloquo2Go app?

“I have a business partner named Leslie Asher who helps me,” she said. “We ask their age, what their diagnosis is and where they’re from. We do them in-state and out-of-state. We Facetime them and do background checks to make sure they’re not scams or fakes. I’m very happy that I have a business partner because sometimes people with autism think, ‘Oh, we want to help everybody’ but we don’t recognize the dangers in the world.

“Leslie helps me keep track of all my receipts and phone calls and writes things down because we get calls and texts about it almost every day. I want to continue doing this the rest of my life because more and more people are getting diagnosed with autism. I really want this to be heard all over the world and educate people. That way children can have a voice and be able to communicate with them.”

All-in-all, Galt is proud of what she's accomplished, but knows it's also been made possible with the help of others.

"I have raised over $10,000 for people with disabilities and I drive and live on my own," she said. "Losing both my parents has helped me become a better and stronger person. It's also helped me to deal with my autism better.

"I want to thank my friends and family businesses for donating to my iPad For Autism business. If it weren't for them I don't know what I'd do.

Those wanting to help contribute to iPads For Autism program can message Galt on Facebook or make a donation through First State Community Bank in Farmington.

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Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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