Yesterday afternoon, I was gifted the highest honor in speech-language pathology—to witness the humanly outcomes of our work. After 16 years, I was in the same space as my John and my Anne. While in graduate school, I would spend several hours a week in their home supporting John’s communication journey. For two years, we collaborated on efforts related to describing, answering questions and telling stories. The most meaningful learning, however, happened before and after our sessions. While tending to the minutia of the household, Anne authentically shared the continuum of her motherly woes, motherly optimism and motherly championing. For a few brief hours each week, I observed and consumed the familial truths of supporting a child with neurodiverse powers. I understood that each act, each emotion, each person has honor and value. It was the most impactful learning I gained as an SLP.
His smile was the same despite the winter beard he adorned as a 28-year-old. As Anne and I caught up on small and big moments from our lives, I noticed the offerings of time. John independently got and paid for his food—always chicken-on-the-bone. He passionately answered the inundation of horse questions from my three children’s inquisition about his work on the ranch. “I want to ride a horse on your ranch!” my 4-year-old hollered as he comfortably held onto John’s arm. “You’re small. You can ride a pony,” John explained. After a pause, he continued, “I’ll teach you.” As my human mind was catching up with aftereffect of the last decade and a half, my heart swelled for the wrinkle in time I was bestowed. My yesterdays and my futurity were colliding in a weighty, bright explosion. Oh, it was so bright.
SLP Presence and Presents
The visit concluded upon taking pictures against a mural with Anne’s new phone. “It was nice to see you,” John declared after reaching down to embrace my shoulder. He was ready to go. I turned to his mother, and she solidly and lovingly embraced me. “Send me the best pictures,” I said to her. “There are no bad pictures,” she responded. She’s right. Everything has always been so very good when we honor the moments and the people, and she taught me that 16 years ago. Presence and connection fuel our work, and its offerings have longstanding impact for all involved.