Welcome back to Love Bytes! It’s great to see you here again! I don’t usually post about my personal life, but Timmy wrote another very special story about something he deals with every day and it happens to be a trait we have in common: the inability to speak. Timmy and I spend our days armed with pads and pens, and we write everything we have to say. All day. Every day. 24/7.
Speech and language processing are two separate and distinct functions and are divisions of neurology. These abilities are not only cognitive, but neurological and physiological. As such, the thinking mind, the brain, and the physical organs required to make sounds must work in concert one hundred percent of the time and in balance in order to process the simplest of speech and language functions. If any one of these three areas is the mildest bit disturbed, speech and language processing is disrupted.
Uniquely, when a child suffers extreme trauma, one of the first abilities to become a casualty is the ability to speak. I won’t belabor the thousands (literally) of theories as to why this occurs, but I can offer you some basics from experience. Abuse occurs in three primary forms. Understanding that there is a progression: psychological abuse is always present; physical abuse can be present and of which psychological abuse is a component; sexual abuse can also be present and of which both psychological and physical abuse are components. As such, psychological abuse is perennial and the earliest learned form of psychological abuse is humiliation.
Severe psychological trauma alters the psyche. It can alter it in one area to a severe degree, or it can alter it in a multitude of ways to lesser degrees, or a combination of both. The damage is no more predictable than a game of chance. If you then add attendant low self-esteem, potential brain damage and damage to laryngeal organs from physical abuse, diagnosing and treating speech and language processing problems is no easier than trying to nail jello to a tree. Is there hope? Yes. Years of effort have enabled me to form words at a slow pace – slower than writing them; and I have spontaneous speech. If I become angry, I can speak and do so clearly…for about thirty seconds. That’s it. It’s over and I cannot then engage in conversation, and it only serves to multiply my humiliation exponentially. So, I choose to remain silent.
For the person who cannot speak, the agony is indescribable. Anguish and frustration embed in every fiber of your being and can further impair the ability to speak. As a result, you become isolated in both practical and euphemistic senses, subject to abuse, ridicule, bullying, impatience, and the whims and erroneous assumptions of others. There are all sorts of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices, including Leap Motion devices, that are geared to help us speak manually; and AutoVerbal apps being birthed daily by software magicians to further assist us with the ability to communicate. They’re fun, cute, but only effective for basic communication, and are no less time consuming than writing words down as Timmy and I do now. Further, if our “listeners” don’t have the time and patience to read what we manually write, why would they have the time and patience to read an iPad or listen to a computer generated text to speech voice that enunciates at one tenth the speed at which people speak? I wave my hand in dismissal. I’ll take my pad and pen—my pen that will write to the death for me—over these fancy contraptions any day and communicate with you the old-fashioned way.
Shira Anthony has been awarded the Oscar for Ultimate Patience in Real Life Communication by me for not only enduring four days with me at the Dreamspinner Press Authors’ Conference, but for being my voice. A glutton for punishment, she didn’t only invite me to her boat for a wonderful vacation, but endured an additional four days with me on the high seas. There is nowhere to run when you’re sailing the ocean. She and her wonderful husband were truly stuck with me. They did not make me walk the gangplank or throw me overboard. They are saints. I also had a lovely “conversation” with Nessa Warin and Anne Regan over one of my books in April. Both were patient, read my scribbles, and carried on as if I were speaking to them. My heart soared!
Sadly, many people don’t have the time, patience, or compassion to “listen” to us and, more often than not, we remain isolated, prisoners in our own minds. We develop rhino skin over time, we learn to communicate the best we can, and we tolerate what we must in order to make our way in the world. We also take the time, patience, and compassion we wish others had for us and apply it to ourselves and become our own cheerleaders. While our inability to speak is a burden, we can and do function successfully in the world…if I do say so, myself.
Read Timmy’s story and take his two challenges! See you back here next month on Friday, October 17th!
“Silence, always my fortress, sometimes my prison.”~John Marsden
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Όμορφη. Ómorphi. Greek. Meaning pretty
Pretty. adj. /pritē/ Pleasing by delicacy or grace
High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together. Read an excerpt of Omorphi
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Caleb had one mission in life.
To keep his boyfriend safe.
They met at ten, kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen. Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist—literally. One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe. Read an excerpt of Safe.