I haven’t written a blog for a while, having not felt inspired to after recent events in my family. Then I finally get my hands on ‘Eye Can Write’ and I feel compelled to tell people about it.
If you haven’t heard of Jonathan Bryan, or seen him on the TV, then you are missing something special. He is a 12 year old boy who is probably brighter than me, yet because of various disabilities he has been left unable to talk or walk. Incredibly though, he has managed to write a book, spelling the whole thing out with the help of his Mother and his team of carers. I won’t spoil it by telling you how he has done it, you have to buy the book for that, but the method is truly extraordinary and will make you re-think everything you presumed about people living with disabilities.
I first saw Jonathan on the TV, having just had my third child. I was already a bag of hormones, brimming over with love and festive cheer (it was near Christmas.) My daughters watched the CBBC programme in silence, completely in awe of what they were seeing. I don’t think they’ve really seen anyone in a wheelchair before, and by the end of the programme they had learnt more than I had in my lifetime.
As I read the book, two things became crystal clear. The first, the overwhelming strength and determination of his Mother and the bond she has with Jonathan. Without her he still may not be able to communicate. Secondly, that there is so much more to human nature than what we know at present. Just as Jonathan lives in the gap between silence and speech, he also lives in the gap between life and death. To me, he is evidence that we are only a small part of a much bigger community that may go beyond death. I’m not particularly religious, but I have taken great comfort from what he has shown me.
This book isn’t about sympathy or sadness, it is about joy. The joy of love, family and language. If there is one small thing you can do today, read his blog, buy the book, support his charity. Just do something beyond your everyday worries and you will feel so much better for it.
Jonathan Bryan’s blog is at http://www.eyecantalk.net
He is the founder of the charity Teach Us Too, which campaigns for all children to be taught to read and write regardless of their label. http://www.teachustoo.org.uk