By Shaun Ryan
When her son, Brady, typed his first sentence, Danielle Wright, who describes herself as “not a screamer,” couldn’t hold back tears.
For the first time in 13 years, the non-verbal boy was able to communicate with his family and the world around him. It was – as he himself had written – a “revolutionary” moment.
“I just knew we had just embarked on a whole new way of life, with Brady now a full participant in his life and ours,” Wright said.
Over the next five years, Brady learned not only to use language to communicate, but to reveal a talent that lay behind the veil of the neuromotor disorder he was diagnosed with at a young age.
Now Brady Wright has written and published a volume of his poetry, and he’s sure to open up his world to those who immerse themselves in it.
find the words
Brady was 3 when he was diagnosed with autism, 5 when he was discovered to have apraxia, which affects communication between the muscles of the mouth and the brain. Verbal communication was not possible, which left his mother and father, Danielle and Brian Wright, to make their best guesses about what he wanted to express. This could be especially difficult when there was a health or medical issue.
What changed everything was a process called facilitated communication, also known as typing.
A facilitator provides support. While monitoring her communication partner’s posture and eye contact, she offers some sort of guidance to stabilize movement to make typing possible. The level of this physical support varies by individual, from resistance to a light touch. Over time, this support may diminish until the communicator is able to demonstrate an ability to type without physical contact.
This process allowed Brady’s family to really get to know him and better understand his personality.
“Brady is an incredible young man,” according to his mother. “He can be very serious at times, a perfectionist, but really funny. He calls himself a prankster. He is very fond of his family, especially his sister Peyton, and cherishes their friendships. He loves adventure and trying new things. He is also very sensitive and expresses himself like no other person his age.
Before discovering facilitated communication, Brady said it was difficult to make yourself understood.
“No way to express my thoughts,” he wrote in an email. “I felt locked away from the world.”
Now that had changed, but there was yet another discovery to be made.
The inner poet
Brady’s talent for poetry was revealed in an otherwise dark time.
Her grandmother, Yaya, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and her mother had gone to South Florida to help her parents. Brady took the situation seriously and dealt with it with his striking.
During one of his seances, he asked if he could write a poem. It would be the first of a long series.
Here is what he wrote:
Breathe in peace, you are healed
Exhale the sorrow, you’re gone
Only my heart can see you now
But my soul feels your love
The whispers of your voice linger in my memories
Break my heart in two
But two makes sense representing one for me and one for you
Fight to accept my loss but restore hope by remembering the battle you won
Unfortunately, our loss is heaven’s gain
You are with the Son
My beautiful Yaya
In her email, Brady wrote that the poetry gave her “the freedom to finally embrace my thoughts.” His interest in this literary form eventually grew, although he still needed to work out some things.
“I think I had to figure Brady out first,” he admitted.
Since that first poem, Brady has published his work on his website, hostagetosilence.com.
Before long Brady decided he would like to write a book of poetry.
“I wanted to share my experiences with the world,” he wrote. “A way to defend the voiceless.”
It was difficult to write – as many authors will appreciate – and he worked on it for “days and days” over a period of about four years.
He soon realized he needed an illustrator and luckily met an artistic young woman who, like Brady, had learned to communicate through facilitated communication.
As a non-verbal child, Gentry Groshell first learned to express himself on canvas as an abstract artist. Beginning with watercolor paper and progressing to large canvases, she developed a style using bold colors in broad brushstrokes and leaving the interpretation of her designs up to the viewer.
She reveals her own poetic sensibility in the titles of her art, such as “Lost Love” and “Beautiful Heart”.
His work turned out to be perfect for Brady’s poetry.
“Gentry paints with his heart and his emotions,” Brady wrote. “I think my book shows that too. She’s nice, so she’s the perfect choice.
The book is called “Hostage to Silence” and although it was just published, it has already hit #1 on Amazon for a new take on disabled parenting.
It can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Scribd, and Apple Books.
Brady wrote that those who read his book will learn a lot about him, his quiet life, his friends and his family. They will also learn how he copes and some of his fears.
Reading his poetry, one realizes that Brady thinks deeply about things and appreciates the differences in others.
“Everyone has a face (face means reality),” he wrote, “and a preferred way of communicating. Not everyone is the same.”
Meet and greet
Brady and Gentry are planning a meeting and book signing on January 29 at Peace of Heart Community, 14A South Roscoe Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach.
The public is welcome but must RSVP to email@example.com.