Disabled Artist and the Tobii/Dynavox

Teachers use tests to place their students academically and judge whether the student is ready to advance to the next level of learning. I’m finding out what you know isn’t as valuable as what you don’t.

Most of you who come to this site know that Joshua is disabled. Birth trauma left him with cerebral palsy. His disabilities have made normal development an impossibility. The Tobii/Dynavox computer is setting him free.

I’m his mother, the other half of OurHome Studio. I’ve been his caregiver since the day he was born and watched his struggles, joys, heartaches, and triumphs. One of the biggest struggles has been education. Before the Tobii/Dynavox computer we didn’t have a reliable method to document what Joshua knows. No tests? No proof. I can tell people Joshua has normal intelligence and understands everything but without an accurate testing method, I couldn’t prove it.

Joshua has hired a tutor whose main purpose is to help Joshua learnĀ  to be conversationally functional. I cannot be the one to help Joshua during this phase of his life. He and I have established a non-verbal communication system that allows us to cheat. We don’t mean to but he reads me too well. I inadvertently give him the answers.

Watching Joshua work with somebody new, I’m able to figure out where Joshua’s educational gaps are. Working with the tutor, Joshua is finding out how much effort he needs to exert to communicate with people who don’t read his non-verbal cues. We are both gaining valuable information.

This is a new phase for all of us. Watching Joshua interact on a verbal level; learning to be literate after 35 years of non-verbal living, I don’t have enough words in me to describe this journey. The world is opening up in a way we could never hope for.

In the weeks coming up, we’re going to be finding out what Joshua knows, and more importantly, what he doesn’t know. We’ll be setting up a plan to help him fill in the educational gaps and guide him toward a life that is suddenly way bigger than we ever dreamed possible.




About JoshE

Joshua Englehaupt was born on April 3, 1980. Birth trauma left him with Cerebral Palsy. He is non-verbal and non-ambulatory but he is filled with a wonderful spirit. He has a passion for art. Join him in his journey of discovery.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Disabled Artist and the Tobii/Dynavox

  1. Marti says:

    I’ve “watched” you and Josh both grow over time, and I’m regularly astonished by how you communicate with each other.

    If no other lesson is learned from the difficulties you both face regularly, it’s this one, with a farmiliar refrain:

    Never give up. Never give up. Never give up, no matter what. There is always a way, and it will be found eventually.

    And other, similar bromides that can only hint at how powerful the relationship between Carol and Joshua has become–far beyond what most of us would consider possible.

    • JoshE says:

      A new chapter is now being written. Joshua is emerging. The surprising thing to me is how much of the change is happening in the ones around him and, in particular, me. I think I know him but do I really? The first time he found the icon for sad, and he said sad, sad, sad over and over I had to fight back tears because he got emotional. I don’t know if he was really feeling sad or if the fact that he could express a real and valid emotion was available to him for the first time in his life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.