Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Intrepid Spirit

Ashley amazes me in so many ways, but one thing that continually amazes me is how adaptable she is.

Imagine just for a moment what it would be like to be deaf and blind. And, to have been that way since birth. All the visual and auditory experiences we take for granted, she never experienced. Imagine how frightening life could be if you couldn’t see where you were going – if you couldn’t hear what people were saying or asking you – if everything you touched had a strange and different texture.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even want to eat a food that looks different, or try on an article of clothing if it feels funny on my skin. That is what Ashley’s life is like every single day.

Yet, she always just goes with the flow. Go in the car and not know really where you are going? Sure, she would say. Walk through a shopping mall knowing there is a crowd of strange people around? Of course, she says. Sleep in a strange bed in a hotel room in a place that is completely alien? Why not, her excitement says.

I don’t think I could be so easy going if everything I had to do was a challenge. I believe I would be frightened to even take a step in a direction that was unknown. And I know that meeting new people that I couldn’t see or hear would cause me to shrink away.

But not Ashley. That must be why so many people don’t believe at first that she is deafblind. She doesn’t act like she is deafblind. At time, I don’t think she even believes she is deafblind. She is fearless, and even though that drives me crazy with worry sometimes, it is the reason she has advanced so much in life.

I’m so glad I was able to adopt her and provide an environment where she was comfortable enough to become the explorer she is. The alternative, had I not adopted her, was institutionalization. I don’t believe the Ashley I know and love would even exist had that happened.

'No limits' has always been my mantra for her. 'No limits' is her mantra for herself. She is amazing and wonderful and fearless. She is a strong young woman, and I am so very proud of her.


Tom Bailey said...

This was a very timely blog for me to read. I just made a list of jokes on my blog and I was terrible in my judgement and I put a blind joke without thinking it through. Then I stumble here 5 minutes after making the edit to reflect my reevaluation and then you share something like this and it really digs it in how poor my judgement really was.

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts here it really gave me a shock that I needed to heard.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

Dalya said...

You must remember though, she dosen't know any different. She was born this way and God gifts special people with special gifts!! And it takes a very strong and special soul to handle being both deaf and blind.
I was lucky having alot deaf family to help support me but there were times I was jealous of my siblings hearing music or my Mama's voice but my Gran, deaf too, would comfort me. She has a learning spirit and brave heart. Try not to put your fears in her name :)


Corrie Howe said...

I agree with Dalya, Ashley doesn't know what she's never had and God has gifted her in unique having an adventurous spirit, which you adeptly pointed out is a reason for her success so far.

Cinda said...

This was so good! I will share this with my graduate students (future special ed teachers, school psychs and school counselors). Beautiful Ashley!

Azaera said...

Aww Ashley is so wonderful! I wish I could meet her in person.

Sue said...

When our five year old students enter the classroom each year I make a silent promise to each one that as their teacher,I am going to do everything I can in the time they spend at school to ensure that they grow up to have an enviable life. Sometimes over the years that promise is hard to keep there seem to be so many hurdles to jump ( most of them red tape) but it looks as though you have won the race with Ashley , so enjoy the prize :)

Katherine said...

Wow I can't tell you how wonderful it was to stumble across your blog. I have an adult brother now 42 with an intellectual disability caused by an illness contracted during infancy. I also work for an organisation that provides respite to children & young adults with varying disabilities. I absolutely love working with my clients & their families and my life is so much better & richer for the experiences that I have had with them. My clients have proven to be some of the greatest teachers in my life & I am grateful to them for this.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us!
I have only read a few of your blog entries and absolutely love what I have read. You have a beautiful daughter in Ashley but might I add that she also has a beautiful mother in you.