Burst forth my heart.
I have discovered that there is an institute in Syracuse, NY that trains people to use AAC.
I learned to type as a young child (8 years old, perhaps) and was typing fluently and to communicate by age 10. My family was remarking over Thanksgiving about how I had “impeccable grammar” in second grade. That’s just how I got put together, I suppose… impeccable grammar, built right in.
I did the fifth grade typing curriculum, meant to last a quarter of the year, in a few days.
Since I can remember, I’ve been a typer.
As I got into high school, my typing moved beyond school projects and IM conversations to include letters, thoughts, and feelings. I would make friends over IM, then see them in person and flat out ignore them, unable to speak. It was a joke, but it always kind of hurt.
It was about that time, in high school, that I began to dream of having friends who also typed instead of spoke. I knew nothing of autism, AAC (alternative/augmentative communication) or FC (facilitated communication), but I had a dream.
My verbal ability began to fall apart more and more in college, and it was then that the amount I typed to communicate actually outweighed the amount I spoke. I would email and IM from across the room with Leigh… and when things really got rough, she would actually facilitate my typing, sitting next to her on the couch. Still didn’t know what FC was… but I was using it!
Upon a weeks-long loss of speech earlier this year and the reception of an iPod Touch, I began to type face to face with people when my speech went dry. Still, the people I typed to always spoke back. I hoped and dreamed of typing to someone who would type back to me…
At this point, I am able to carry on conversations about, well, autism, Elsie P, and Food Network statistics, but little more. I’m always running around with my typing asking if I can read it out loud to Mom, Sister, and Therapist. After all, “I have a cat,” while perhaps endearing, does little to express who I am and how I feel.
I saw Wretches and Jabberers not long ago and fell in love. And then, having gotten an iTunes gift card and download of the film for my (early) birthday this year, upon watching it… well, I cried. And cried, and cried. It’s not a sad movie! But, I believe that because it is such an incredible validation of my voice and my being, that the emotion spilled forth.
Full circle, back to Syracuse. I emailed them. I am curious if they ever bring their AAC users together to type about life.
It’s just a dream, right? Or is it?
My heart… burst forth my heart.