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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Give Me A Sign


For robins.

Tiny green shoots.

Flowering bulbs.

I need a sign.

I got one. My first email from the website. From a parent of one of my former students. She said simply, "I'm proud of you". Amazing what four little words can do for a beginner, at any age. Message lovingly sent. Message gratefully received. The communication equation. From one to another.

Prose, poetry, graffiti, email, letters, postcards ... word art. Two dimensional messaging. Powerful.
Sign language is three-D communication. An airborne greeting card. A universal power cord that plugs people in. A search engine to connect anyone, anywhere in the world, that transcends all that is written or spoken and transforms the simplest utterance into a song dancing in the air. A song that begins as a solo and ends in a visual chorus. To do it well requires a single effort. Eye contact. The eyes say, "see me" and hands reply "I do".

I wrote a garden page for one of my students. To define him as severely autistic and profoundly deaf is to merely label. To know him as "Michael" is to meet the wonderful young man behind his smiling eyes and to never be quite the same again. Michael is a wonder. His mother is the proudest mom in the room. Always. No matter what. That she is proud of me, is an honor. I have never shared Michael's garden page, but it hangs on the wall in his room. After receiving his mom's permission, I share it with you.


Glasses, markers, sorting. He's looking for something. Retracing his steps over and over. Searching through all the files in his mind, but the cabinets are locked and there is no key. A new thought emerges and racing from one part of his mind, he hurries before a new thought takes its place and he must start all over again ending up in the same place. Lost. His eyes dart and flash. No time to focus, to sharpen his view or to hone in on the target. His anger flashes. Was he almost there? Was it on the tip of his tongue or was it scrambled up in his mouth where even sounds become a jumble of consonants and vowels. Too many to sort out, they blur into a low moan or a wild shriek. Unspeakable terror is to never capture an idea long enough to express it. How corrupt a system where needs cannot be met because wants cannot be expressed. Then hands move in front of his face and the gestures dance in the corner of his eye. He sees you and you see him. Your eyes meet in the shape of hands. Hands float in the air and a heart is captured. In the shape of a hand a soul is reached. In the language of sign a connection is made and for a brief moment Michael is Michael for all to see. For a second in time, the cabinet is unlocked and...
...Michael holds the key. 

 Go out today. Look for the signs of spring.

 Make eye contact.

 Start a conversation.

 In honor of Michael, please stop by

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