Deej documentary educates

DJ “Deej” Savarese is a man of many talents. He is a published poet, graduate of Oberlin College, recipient of several awards and an activist and advocate for nonverbal neurodivergent people like himself.

A documentary about Savarese ‘Deej’ was shown by Disabled Students Programs & Services and Students with Abilities Coordinate to Helping Each other Monday, Nov. 6 in Library Room L-109 with Savarese in attendance as a guest.

Savarese communicated through writing with his mother’s assistance and addressed the attendants about a range of topics including education, social justice, and poetry.

The documentary covers Deej’s journey and struggles over a six-year time period interspersed with Savarese’s poetry and accompanying animations.

One of the first topics Savarese covered was assumptions neurotypical people make about autistic people.

“People are taught to believe we are unempathetic and asocial, but if anything, I’m too empathetic,” said Savarese.

Many of Savarese’s actions reflect this empathy as he works towards furthering understanding of neurodivergent people.  

“I’m not disabled inside, but I am disabled from the outside,” said Savarese referencing the prejudice he faces as the real hindering factor in his life, “I wanted to do a film that captures that tension,” he said.

Savarese’s poetry takes a central role in the film with poems like ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ which explores how Savarese’s childhood friendships were more free and honest before his contemporaries had internalized societal prejudices about neurodivergent people provide a window into his psyche and ‘Swoon’ which explores the sensory overload that is common in Savarese’s life.

One of the people in who helped organize the event was LMC counselor Nina Ghiselli.

“I think that it’s really important for our campus to see the diversity of how people learn and process,” said Ghiselli.

Savarese is a prime example of this as despite his expressive poetry and scholastic success, many on first glace make the false assumption that he is unintelligent.

“I love saying I’m not nervous, but I am insanely so,” said Savarese, “Just anxious that I not be seen as a man who is unable to do my work.”

SACHE president Tammy Smith also helped put on the event. This is one of many times SACHE members have helped coordinate a DSPS-led event because both campus organizations are closely linked.

“SACHE is the social aspect of DSPS,” said Smith, “you don’t have to be part of DSPS to join, just care about the issues.”

Savarese’s poetry collection “A Doorknob for the Eye” is now available and can be purchased at