Ask any parent of a Rett child and they’ll tell you…”I can tell she understands, I can see it in her eyes.”
Katie’s eyes are such a beautiful blue. They sparkle so. But, I don’t get to just admire them, I have to listen to them. I have to watch them, pay attention to a flicker she’s counting on me to catch and understand. A tall order, that’s for sure. Now I can go on and on about the technology that’s available that uses eye gaze-from low tech to high. There’s simple eyegaze, PODD books, iPads and tablets, Dynavox’s and Tobii’s. Katie has a Tobii. It uses infrared signals to track her eyes and actually speaks for her. But for most of the world’s Rett children, this technology is not available. So really, I just want to remind people, that just because Rett children can’t speak verbally, that doesn’t mean they aren’t speaking.
People can tell when ANYONE is sad, in pain, happy, joyful, introspective, wondering, just by looking at their eyes. LOOK at our children, really LOOK and you’ll be amazed at what you can hear with YOUR eyes. You will see our children being compassionate toward others with a look, you will see the “lightbulb go off” when they “get it.” You will see them laughing at a funny tv show or a joke that was shared. If you really, really looked you would never, ever believe they understood nothing about the world around them. Yet, this is still a common belief.
So, I would ask that people show our children, and ALL children, the goodness in Life, don’t deny them the wonder of education, and words to read, show them pictures of people and places, and watch. Watch for the flicker that says “I want that” acknowledge the emotion you see in their eyes, that they have no other way to express; someone once saw the same in yours and came to say “lean on me, it’s alright to be sad” or “I’m sorry you are hurting” without you saying a word. Please strive, greater World, to bring joy to those eyes that look out from a child who yearns to run free. And I am certain if you give the beauty of the world to the mind of our children, you will see the beauty shine right back at you from grateful eyes.
Can you hear her? Can you see her? Can’t you tell what she is saying or thinking? If not, perhaps it is true she cannot talk, but also that the world is blind.