I am so eager to share the richness of lives with communication and support! For me, I can say that my life now is so full of pursuits I had never dared to dream of, as well as many that I did hold silently cherished as dreams. This list is a snapshot of the new richness in my own life!
Beyond my former dreams
Before communication – my B.C. – I led a pretty constrained life. I was unable to communicate my desires and interests beyond the most basic and often compulsive reactions to the activities and experiences I was exposed to. So it was obvious from my physically expressed glee that I loved pools. But I could not express how much I wanted to learn how to brave the waves of the ocean, because my physical response was dominated by anxiety and fear of the powerful water. And there are so many activities that are not accessible without a reliable form of communication.
I want to share a sample of ways that communication has allowed me to thrive beyond what I had dared to dream. I also want to highlight that a strong support team and resources are so essential to me realizing this new life. It truly is a community effort to support my access to these pursuits, and I hope one day that such support is more widely and readily available.
So here is a list of passions that now enrich my life:
- Writing poetry and prose: This is my most cherished passion, my dream career for the hopefully not-too-distant future, my way of actualizing my beautiful inner world and processing the outer world. I am so deeply grateful that I can finally share and craft and savor words like this.
- Ocean sports: I am so in awe of the fact that I can now snorkel, ocean swim, SUP, and learn to surf. This was so out of reach a few years ago, but now I can express my interest in learning, the help or guidance I need to feel more comfortable, and what specific skills I want to work on. And I can also direct my own OT work, which has had fantastic benefits for all of my physical activities. I have even made my own small podcast series on my ocean journey and ocean conservation!
- Cooking my own recipes: As I wrote about in this piece, I had always cooked with my mom. But now I can develop my own recipes, and plan menus for special events. It is so fulfilling to be able to be more creative in the kitchen!
- Art and art history: I am so enjoying learning how to paint and learning about art through museum visits, documentaries, and lessons from one of my support team who is a trained artist and experienced art handler. I had never been able to express my interest in art before, and now it is one of my favorite things to learn about!
- Taking care of our dogs: I had already been in charge of feeding and walking the dogs with my mom, but I could not show how I really loved those goofballs! My family had assumed that I was indifferent and occasionally annoyed by dogs based on my body’s expression of indifference and discomfort around them. Now, I can share how much they mean to me, and my family now encourages my efforts and helps me learn how to show more affection to them.
- Traveling: I think my family already knew I love traveling because of how happy and at peace I was during our few trips. But now I can choose where I want to travel and what I want to do and where I want to eat and stay. And I can advise on ways to help me stay regulated while traveling. I am so excited to see more of the world!
- Reading books autonomously: I can easily skim a page or screen and sort of soak up the content super quickly. But for some reason, I could not get my body to focus long enough to read longer narratives, and I could not really relish the beauty of specific turns of phrase while I was rapidly absorbing words. I was able to share with my family my wish to read books on my own, and I could give feedback on ways to train my motor skills to do so. It was a lot of work and practice, but now I can read books on my own with a plastic reading ruler!
- Learning languages: I adore languages! But I was never taught any because it appeared that I struggle even with my first language of English. Now, I can show off how I have been absorbing languages the whole time, and I can express my interest in more structured learning of them. It is especially meaningful to me because my uncle only speaks Japanese, and I love chatting with him and hope to be more conversant soon.
This is all in addition to how critically important communication is to my quality of life in more fundamental ways: my ability to share words with loved ones, express my needs and wants, and make decisions about my life. These passions are the beautiful, thriving flowers and fruits among the verdant growth that communication has germinated. I am absolutely in awe of how bountiful they are!