Out of My Mind

Along with the assortment of teachers we’ve had in room H-5, there have been more classroom aides than I can count. These aides—usually one guy to help with the boys and one lady to help with the girls—do stuff like take us to the bathroom (or change diapers on kids like Ashley and Carl), feed us at lunch, wheel us where we need to go, wipe mouths, and give hugs. I don’t think they get paid very much, because they never stay very long. But they should get a million dollars. What they do is really hard, and I don’t think most folks get that.

and the machine speaks the words I’ve never been able to say. “I love you.

[A] person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart.

By the way, there is nothing cute about a pink wheelchair. Pink doesn't change a thing.

By the way, there is nothing cute about a pink wheelchair. Pink doesn't change a thing.

Dad also has the loudest, stinkiest farts in creation. I don’t know how he manages to control them at work, or even if he does, but when he’d get home, he’d let them loose. They’d start as he walked up the stairs. Step, fart. Step, fart. Step, fart.

Delete, delete, delete. No way am I letting their negativity mess me up. I have enough to worry about.

Earthquake report: Call the paramedics. A girl in fifth grade is about to explode.

Everybody uses words to express themselves. Except me. And I bet most people don’t realize the real power of words. But I do. Thoughts need words. Words need a voice.

Fifth grade is probably pretty rocky for lots of kids. Homework. Never being quite sure if you’re cool enough. Clothes. Parents. Wanting to play with toys and wanting to be grown up all at the same time. Underarm odor. I guess I have all that, plus about a million different layers of other stuff to deal with. Making people understand what I want. Worrying about what I look like. Fitting in. Will a boy ever like me? Maybe I’m not so different from everyone else after all.

I believe in me. And my family does. And Mrs. V.
It's the rest of the world I'm not so sure of.

I can’t talk. I can’t walk. I can’t feed myself or take myself to the bathroom. Big bummer.

I hate that word, by the way. Retarded.

I have spastic bilateral quadriplegia, also known as cerebral palsy. It limits my body, but not my mind.

I just sit there. The morning started out like crystal, but the day has turned to broken glass.

I love the smell of my mother’s hair after she washes it.
I love the feel of the scratchy stubble on my father’s face before he shaves.
But I’ve never been able to tell them.

I tried so hard, I farted! Mrs.

It’s like I’ve always had a painted musical sound track playing background to my life. I can almost hear colors and smell images when music is played.

Look at that amazing display of sparkle! And feel that wind? It's trying to tickle your toes,

Maybe I'm not so different from everyone else after all. It's like somebody gave me a puzzle, but I don't have the box with the picture on it. So I don't know what the final thing is supposed to look like. I'm not even sure if I have all the pieces.

Music is powerful, my young friends,” she said. “It can connect us to memories. It can influence our mood and our responses to problems we might face.

She talked to me like I was just like any other student, not a kid in a wheelchair.

song came on the radio that made me screech with joy.

The morning started out like crystal, but the day has turned to broken glass.

Thoughts need words. Words need a voice.

We all have disabilities. What’s yours?

What would you do if you could fly?" Mrs. V asks as she glances from the bird to me.
"Is that on the quiz?" I ask, grinning as I type.
"I think we've studied just about everything else." Mrs. V chuckles.
"I'd be scared to let go," I type.
"Afraid you'd fall?" she asks.
"No. Afraid it would feel so good, I'd just fly away.

What your body looks like has nothing to do with how well your brain works!

Words.

I’m surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions.

Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate.
Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus.
Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent.
Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry.

Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes—each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.

Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.

From the time I was really little—maybe just a few months old—words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade. I could almost taste them. They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have substance. My parents have always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered her strength into my ear.

Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I absorbed and kept and remembered. All of them.

I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings.

But only in my head.

I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.

Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes-each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.