If you meet someone who is nonverbal, you would probably think that the person is slow and can’t have a fulfilling life. People usually don’t try to talk with them. I am Chris Lenart and I was a programmer analyst for fourteen years and now I am a public speaker and a blogger. Guess what – I have Cerebral Palsy and am nonverbal. Yes, I am nonverbal and you are saying how could he do everything that he says he does?
Well, I had the motivation to do everything that I wanted to do, and yes, it was hard because nobody thought I could do it except for my parents. When I went to my orientation at University of Illinois, I told them that I wanted to be a computer programmer. The department of disability services said that I was crazy and should find another degree to go into. Did I listen to them? Absolutely, I just went on to be a computer programmer. It was really difficult, but I did not care.
All during my life, people told my parents that they should just love me and don’t expect too much out of me. But my parents didn’t listen to them and gave me therapy that I needed and the education that everybody should have. The teachers hated my parents especially my mom because they thought that she didn’t know what reality was, but they were the ones who did not know what I could do.
Being nonverbal is difficult sometimes, but it doesn’t define who I am. With technology today, I can communicate with anyone who is patient because I have to type out everything that I have to say. With society today, people want to have everything fast. I can type as fast as I can, but sometimes people don’t realize that and just walk away.
It is hard to find someone to have a relationship with because they don’t take the time to get to know me. I am not saying that I want a wife or a girlfriend, but when I was younger, I did. Relationships take on many forms so I want to have relationships like getting more speaking engagements or even friendships.
Life is what it is and I am not disappointed in what I have accomplished so far. If you are nonverbal, try to communicate best as you can. It might be difficult to find the right communication system, but it is out there somewhere. I have tried many systems but went to the Apple store and tried the iPad. It was difficult at first, but once I got used to it, I started to love it. I can do so much more with it than a few regular communication systems and it costs a lot less.
In closing, I want to say don’t give up on your dreams because one day you will receive your dreams. If you are a person without a disability, try to interact with somebody with a disability. Maybe both of you might have a similar interest so you can develop a friendship. Everyone needs friends.
Learn more about Chris on his blog, Disability Awareness.