Taking another’s time was Henry’s way quite predictably and regularly of mixing up the schedule and sending aides and teachers amazingly back to their calendars for review of where they were. Teachers thought something was wrong as he screamed and acted out tantrums seemingly autistically communicating each upset. In fact, Henry was bright and bored, confined to a wheelchair and nonverbal. You could tell how bright he was by the way he timed his outbursts, by the twinkle in his eye, his smiles when no one was looking, and his understanding of everything that went on, including the politics if a teacher were only paying attention.
Henry was trapped like me and our other friends in a body that didn’t work, without a voice, and with the system’s conclusion that he was unintelligent so that no one had to educate him. Really bright and a party guy by nature, he wasn’t afraid to go for maximum impact with his outbursts, since our teacher and her staff had no clue. Any awesome opportunity for impact was good. The class and outbound trips often revolved around Henry’s entertainment.
Quite the opposite of Henry was Steve. Steve was always waiting while Henry got the attention. We saw Steve’s wonderful intelligence in the way he waited to do something, and because there was never enough time to teach Steve, we saw him just give answers without preparation or explanation time after time. What we did wasn’t rocket science ever, but with Steve you knew that if it was, he would have had those answers, too.
Under the worst of circumstances physically, particularly needing physical care, was waiting a mind of tremendous proportions. and everyone among we nonverbals passionately felt the waste. Every one of us in the community knew of the others’ potentials, and none of us could reach out with language. Typing was forbidden if trained support were involved. I practiced thinking of speeches as I waited my turn, praying for a miracle to set me free.