“If you could do anything tomorrow, what would you do?”
“Skiing,” said the mechanical voice of my son’s voice output program.
“If you won the lottery, what would you buy?”
Deane pressed “dog.”
“If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you take?”
“A guitar and drum. A TV (to watch Raptors’ games). My sister,” he said.
This was part of a conversation between Deane and his tutor, a speech-language pathology student. Twice a week, they spend an hour “chatting” and reading books.
I’m not sure how this conversation actually transpired. Deane may or may not have put his answers in sentences. It doesn’t really matter. His responses were clear.
What blew me away about this conversation was not his answers, but that it never occurred to me to ask such open-ended questions. I have to admit that I tend to see his speech program as a practical device that helps us understand his needs.
It’s easy to think that just because he can’t talk, he only thinks about what to watch on TV and what we are doing tomorrow. This conversation pushed me to remember that he has dreams, desires and just random thoughts that he wants to share. Just like for his talkative sister, what runs through his head makes him who he is.
It was a stark reminder that if I want to truly understand my son, I need to get passed the day-to-day demands and focus on things beyond the practical.