SPA 523 – AUGMENTATIVE ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION
Rush - Journey out of Silence, 1986, p. 21
When the narrator said, “And the dragon roared,” I let out a yell. We practiced that line many times because
when a person with cerebral palsy wants to do something, he can‟t and when he wants not to do something, he
involuntarily does it. So getting my vocal cords to cooperate with the cue was as hard as memorizing a
Shakespearian play. But after weeks of practice I growled right on cue. More importantly, my costume won
first prize in the audience applause for best costume. My prize was an orange with a quarter attached and a
handshake from the scout master.
Rush – Journey Out of Silence, 1986, p. 137
My new friend (Wendy) was good looking. She was just over five feet tall and had brown eyes that matched
the color of her shoulder length hair. Her skin showed a summer tan and she had a dynamite smile. “Did he
show ya all his electronic stuff?” one of my dormmates asked her. “Go on, Bill, show her.” So I demonstrated
the controls for my lights and clock radio. I showed off my door opener, which I could control via a radio
transmitter attached to the Plexiglas tray on my wheelchair. She was impressed with the space-age technology.
“Hey, show her your wheelchair and how it works. I‟ll never understand how it works. It baffles me,” another
dormmate said. So, wondering if I should sell tickets, I wheeled about the room. I demonstrated how I went
straight, reverse, and turned left and right. I was angry at my dormmates because I was a man, not a side
show freak. My wheelchair was a tool for my mobility, not a novelty. Why couldn‟t they see that? And why
couldn‟t they see that I was trying to get to know Wendy. Why didn‟t they understand I had a right to my
privacy just as they did? As I was wheeling around the room, I noticed that Wendy was typing something. I
was disappointed in her. I thought she knew that I could hear and that she didn‟t have to write things to me.
Apparently I was wrong. When I was done showing my electric marvels to her and the guys, I rolled back to
my typewriter to read, “I wish they would go, so we could talk by ourselves.” They finally left and we finally got
to talk. Our friendship had started.
Rush – Journey Out of Silence, 1986, p. 146
When I saw the birthday girl at dinner, I spelled out, “CAN YOU COME TO MY ROOM TONIGHT ITS AN
EMERGENCY” So I lied. I was getting good at it, and that worried me. That night she came to my room.
“What‟s wrong Bill? She asked, “What‟s the emergency?” I motioned toward the little rose. “Oh, who gave
you the rose? It‟s beautiful.” “READ THE CARD” I spelled out, trying to hold down my excitement. “Oh, Bill,
thank you. I love it.” I didn‟t anticipate her reaction. She spontaneously hugged me. It felt so good to be
hugged by Wendy. When a guy is in an electronic wheelchair, has an electronic control system to operate all
other electronic gadgets for him, and can open and shut his door via radio transmitter, he starts wondering
whether, or when, his doctor will start taking his ampmeter reading instead of his blood pressure. But when my
friend put her arms around me, I was reassured that I was human. I felt tenderness and warmth.
Rush – Journey Out of Silence, 1986, p. 160
The next day my mom called Mark to say that it had “broken.” Mark questioned me through my mom and
discovered that a minor programming error, one Mark had not noticed, caused the system to overwrite the
dictionary of words on the diskette. After an extended phone conversation, we managed to solve the problem.
After the ordeal mom said, “I thought this thing would let you talk on the phone by yourself. I don‟t like it. It‟s
too complicated for me.” Mark and I tried to explain that the system, as did all new systems, had a few bugs in
it. But mom‟s reply was usually, “Fine. I will get bug spray and spray the stupid thing,” or “Then why bother
Mark? Shouldn‟t I call an exterminator?” I couldn‟t blame her. This kind of thing went on for the rest of the
summer. My mom would call Mark and say, Bill‟s computer is buggy again.” My life was buggy that summer. I
loved my new voice synthesizer and wanted to share my happiness with my parents. They were intimidated by
this new electronical marvel. They didn‟t know how to fix it, and they felt obligated to fix my stuff as they did
when I was a child.
*Expectation – I though most of my communication problems were solved. The rest of my life would be duck
soup. Sure it would.
Nolan - Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 5
“Such were Joseph‟s teachers and such was their imagination that the mute boy became constantly amazed at
the almost telepathic degree of certainty with which they read his facial expression, eye movements, and body
language. Many a good laugh was had by teacher and pupil as they deciphered his code. It was moments
such as these that Joseph recognized the face of God in human form. It glimmered in their kindness to him, it
glowed in their keenness, it hinted in their caring, indeed it caressed in their gaze.” (Nolan, 1981, p.11)
Creech – Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 4
“If you want to know what it is like to be unable to speak, there is a way. Go to a party and don‟t talk. Play
mute. Use your hands if you wish but don‟t use paper and pencil. Paper and pencil are not always handy for a
mute person. Here is what you will find: people talking; talking behind, beside, around, over, under, through,
and even for you. But never with you. You are ignored until finally you feel like a piece of furniture.”
(Musselwhite & St. Louis, 1998, p. 104)
Brothers – Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 5
“I know what it is like to be fed potatoes all my life. After all, potatoes are a good basic food for everyday, easy
to fix in many different ways. I hate potatoes! But then, who knew that but me? I know what it is like to be
dressed in red and blues when my favorite colors are mint greens, lemon yellows, and pinks. I mean really, can
you imagine?” (Brothers, 1991, p. 59)
Easton – Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 5
“Our lives were being turned upside down; frustration, anger, exasperation, and exhaustion were very evident.
No one knew what to do for the best and the family felt helpless…. I have tried – and to some extent
succeeded – to keep calm, because with the amount of communicating I have to do to cope each day, I would
be in a permanent state of frustration. If, however, I do show some signs of frustration, I am told repeatedly to
keep calm!”….. (Easton, 1989, pp. 16-17)
Joseph and Simpson – Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 5
“I woke up one morning and I wasn‟t me.
There was somebody else in my bed.
And all I had left was my head.” (Joseph, 1986, p. 8)
“Speech is the most important thing we have. It makes us a person and not a thing. No one should ever have
to be a „thing‟.” (Joseph, 1986, p. 8)
“So you can‟t talk, and it‟s boring and frustrating and nobody quite understands how bad it really it really is. If
you sit around and think about al the things you used to be able to do, that you can‟t do now, you‟ll be a
miserable wreck and no one will want to hang around you long.” (Simpson, 1988, p. 11)
Brown – Beukelman & Mirenda, 1992, p. 5
“I drew it – the letter „A‟. There it was on the floor before me….. I looked up. I saw my mother‟s face for a
moment, tears on her cheeks…. I had done it! It had started – the thing that was to give my mind its chance of
expressing itself…. That one letter, scrawled on the floor with a broken bit of yellow chalk gripped between my
toes, was my road to a new world, my key to mental freedom.” (Brown, 1954, p. 17)