Do you remember when you heard your son or daughter say “Dad” for the first time? As a father, it’s a moment that I will never forget.
My eight-year-old son, Joseph, has dyskinetic cerebral palsy which affects his speech and motor skills. And for the first few years of my son’s life, I didn’t hear that word, or any other.
Today however, I hear my son loud and clear, thanks to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
When Joseph was three, he received his first communication device. For the first time, he could really express his feelings and thoughts to us, his friends, his classmates or anyone he met, in a precise and detailed way.
Joseph’s device contains touchable cells that are programmed with words that he can string together to form sentences. Those phrases are then delivered through a voice output. For Joseph and our family, this device is life-changing.
Being able to communicate with Joseph has helped us develop a very deep bond. When I heard the word “Dad” for the very first time, I knew the sky was the limit for Joseph. Up to that point I had been struggling to get to know my son.
Thanks to Holland Bloorview, Joseph has developed into a chatterbox with a colourful imagination. He is articulate and creative. He has spoken at conferences, written a children’s book, and has even written a song which he recorded and is available on iTunes.
What I admire most about Joseph is his determination, irrepressible spirit, and sense of humour. He has a vast range of interests which include computer programming, robotics, video gaming and playing practical jokes. Joseph is always in motion, either running in his walker, biking, working on projects, or plotting his latest prank.
Often Joseph is the only child in a group who uses a communication device or a walker and he is not shy about advocating for himself or others. If the kids want to play a racing game or tag, Joseph suggests they crawl so everyone can participate.
You don’t know how much it means to us to hear his voice. And thanks to Holland Bloorview, I know my son will continue thrive, conquer barriers and share his voice with others.
– Kevin, Joseph’s dad