Written by: Christina Hansen, MSHA Secretary
Right now, in this state, a man can’t tell his doctor where it hurts. A boy has been sent to the office, again, for inappropriate behavior. He passes a girl who is holding back tears after a classmate said she “sounds British.” Right now, a grandmother hovers at the edge of a family reunion, nodding and smiling at jokes she can’t hear.
Today, a third grader will throw his pencil at his teacher because no matter how hard he tries to focus, the letters on the page wiggle beneath his eyes. A new graduate in her first “real” job will squint at her boss’s lips, only to realize he said, “Forget it, I’ll send you an email.” Later, a woman will wake in the hospital with no memory of the car accident. A nice young man will tell her she’s been there for three weeks.
Communication is the link that binds us in a web of humanity, but far too often, disability severs that link. Far too often, healthcare facilities and school districts go understaffed, under-funded, and underappreciated while people with communication disorders fall silent, captive to the lie that they don’t have a voice.
But that’s not the whole story.
Right now, in this state, a child hears her mother say, “I love you” for the first time. An elder can finally drink thin coffee as he reads the newspaper. A high schooler gives a presentation—fluently. A woman returns to work equipped with an arsenal of executive strategies. Instead of punching his teacher, a boy says, “I need a break.”
Today, a man who can only move his eyes is writing his soon-to-be-best-selling memoir. A girl has just passed her reading test—at grade level. She doesn’t know that her new best friend has never had a friend before, that the girl who knows everything about chickadees works hard to keep Mean Jean and Rock Brain out of her head. This afternoon, a man will finally notice his wife when she sits to his left.
Communication is the link that binds us in a web of humanity, but when disability severs that link, there is hope. Healthcare facilities and school districts may be short on staff, funds, and recognition, but they abound in empathy, laughter, and perseverance. SLPs, Audiologists, and Assistants, your work matters. Whether you are jousting with insurance companies, digging yourself out from under a mountain of IEPs, or handing a tissue to a tearful client, you are not alone. At MSHA, we support each other.
Because communication is a human right, and we’ll make sure everyone has it.