Bryan after nailing his latest job interview.
Bryan has had speech therapy for most of his life.
Even as a newborn in his Early Intervention program, receptive and expressive language skills were measured and goals set. It always seemed that when gross motor growth occurred, language development took a back seat. And then the reverse would happen. But happen it did…eventually.
One of the first clear utterances Bryan made in this preschool program was following a car accident I had on the way to his school one morning. Bryan’s newborn sister, Amy, had colic and was shrieking loudly in the backseat of our new charcoal gray Quantum station wagon. Turning to see if something else was distressing her, the steering wheel also turned ever-so-slightly, and the new car grazed a nearby telephone pole.
Due to the lack of sleep from a colicky newborn and the fact that I dinged-up our new car, I had a Mommy Meltdown. After pulling over, I draped both arms over the steering wheel, rested my head on my arms and swore with anguish, “Oh s_ _t! Oh s_ _t!” Once composed, I continued on the half-an-hour journey.
When we finally arrived at school, I gathered the kids and rushed into the classroom, late. Bryan promptly went over to sit in a toy plastic car, sat behind the wheel and proceeded to demonstrate my meltdown. Of course, the teachers got a real chuckle out of it – especially the crystal-clear expressive language Bryan exhibited : “Oh thyit! Oh thyit!” I was mortified. His first understandable words were curses! What kind of a parent was I?
As the years went by the therapy continued. In a prior blog post, “Patience”, I mentioned how Bryan’s speech changed as a young teenager after the trauma of the death of this good friend. From that time forward, stuttering and stammering have become the norm,.
One of the most difficult speech tasks for Bryan is answering simple “yes” and “no” questions. He always needs to give a long-winded backstory to each query.
At his current therapy sessions, Bryan obtained a “Mini-talk” – a device designed to speak for Bryan using Bryan’s own programmed thoughts, but spoken in a mechanical male voice when a button is pushed. We were hoping it would simplify and clarify Bryan’s utterances, especially during job interview situations where stress would cause more disfluency.
But when it came time to use it in a recent interview, Bryan was quite clear in communicating to us and his therapist that using the device “embarrassed” him and made him feel like his coworkers would see him as “disabled”. (his words in quotes)
We have to honor those wishes. And how proud and grateful we are that Bryan is able to express his true feelings to us in a language we all understand!