The Key That Spells Life
From our very first breath, it seems, the push to communicate is uppermost in our minds. With little baby whimpers, frantic gestures for comfort and a feed, and with eyes that dart around looking for mum’s assurance, we move on to eventual vocal or kinetic connection with people around us.
Communication is the key that spells life for us from the get go, and we latch on to that key pretty quickly. If our voice fails to deliver the required discernible sounds, then other features like our eyes, hands and finger signing take over. How skilled and highly equipped is the body!!
This key characteristic, however, has fallen under major challenges, bumps and breakdowns rendering whole sections of society disadvantaged from mainstream activities. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. So let’s have a peek at just two instances where a disconnect of communication skills has necessitated amazing technological and other resolves.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
PSP – ever heard of this neurological ailment? Currently as many as 1300 Australians have been diagnosed with this condition ‘affecting parts of the brain that control walking, eye movements, balance, speech and swallowing’ 1.
A relatively unknown condition, doctors have only of recent years been able to diagnose this progressively deteriorating ailment as being separate from Parkinson’s disease. Therapies of different kinds, such as physio and speech therapies, provide sufferers with forms of communication that push against the regression of neurogenic communicative skills . The added development of Apps 2 that help with this bring in another layer of verbal/typed interaction boosting the sufferer’s morale and self-confidence.
Jay in Newcastle, Australia with the support of his loving wife and family, has tried for many years to push against the PSP regression with such therapies. The incentive and encouragement these therapies bring can never be underestimated.
Non-verbal Autism & RPM
Autism is another condition of ‘disconnect’ and the spectrum is as varied as the individuals themselves. Siri who lives in San Francisco, USA, is on the non-verbal autism spectrum for whom speech therapy, using the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM)3 coupled with related apps, was a game changer.
Her quest to communicate with discernible speech markers is a long road ahead, but one that Siri is determined to pursue doggedly, with the love of her supportive family. Siri also has the added challenge of Apraxia, which is a disconnect of body and brain.
The documentary, ‘My Name is Siri‘4 was directed by Sarah Moshman and produced by my daughter, Asha Dahya, and will be aired on US TV channel, PBS, on 1st May 2023. It records Siri’s amazing determination to work past her limitations.
Jay and Siri represent the thousands, if not millions, around the world for whom everyday is a climb in their quest for a better form of communication in their special set of challenges. The covid years, of course, brought another layer of isolation which they had to contend with.
Communication, indeed, is King and the driving force of, as well as a push into, all our life matters.
A Special Prayer
Oh God of Heaven and Earth, we pray for each and every brave soul that struggles with their particular set of challenges in communication. Lord please help them in gaining the tools required and grant them the peace and comfort of knowing that they can ‘connect’ with you, deep within their beings, in the midst of all their struggles. Amen. 🙏🏼
1 PSP Australia – Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Support Group
2 12 Apps That Help People with Speech and Communication – HCBS | Home Community Based Services
3 An interview with Soma Mukhopadhyay, pioneer of rapid prompting method (RPM) » NeuroClastic