Click on the link below to listen to Peter and Betty talking about Facilitated Communication (FC) on ABC Radio’s ‘Mornings with Annie Gaffney” on 3 December 2012 . It also includes an interview with former Disability Services Queensland speech pathologist, Matthew Wilson, sharing his understanding and experiences of FC while working in the department. http://blogs.abc.net.au/queensland/2012/12/communication-tool-helps-peter-find-voice.html
Peter was first introduced to Facilitated Communication at the age of 30. Until then, his family and everyone who knew him thought that he understood very little, because of his inability to speak.
Peter says: “I was the guy sitting in the corner who supposedly had nothing to say and no understanding of what was going on …. I was bursting with thoughts but had no way of getting them out – you can’t imagine how frustrating that was …. Communication is supposed to be a basic thing we all have a right to. It is the thing that helps define who you are.”
When he ‘spoke’ on the communication board for the first time, he was so excited he cried all the way home. “It was sheer relief to finally find someone who could speak to me after years in silence,” says Peter. “To think that after all these years of not being able to say the words, I could now get across my messages and my needs, and everything else I had been denied for all those years. I could now talk!”
Then it was Betty’s time to cry – and not just because the first thing he said to her was “I love you Mum.” For Betty and the rest of the family it was like discovering a stranger, another person they hadn’t known.
“It was pretty hard for both of us,” says Peter. “I already knew them, but they didn’t know me… I was the same person but the impact of me communicating certainly changed me and my relationships with others … Many people didn’t really know me. But they thought they knew what I should not be able to do because of the way I look … Many people misinterpret us based on appearances; Please don’t judge me by a label.”
Being able communicate through FC allows Peter to engage with others in so many different ways – through his art, his presentations – and to lead a full and meaningful life…
ABOVE: (L) Peter uses FC during a Q&A time; (M) to join in a conversation, and (R) to speak to fans at an at exhibition
Not long after Peter started using FC with the help of speech therapist Jane Remington-Gurney, he started writing poetry. His poems “The Hand Holding Mine” and “The Words are Sticky” express what it is like for him using Facilitated Communication, as does the following poem about his QWERTY board:
Oh Board, my special amusement.
My true love, my fun time
My friend, my everything.
You are to me what air is to a bird.
Without you I cannot say a word.
With you around I can be absurd.
We sing, we prance, we have romance,
But one day I will have the chance
to play your letters
in a solo dance.
Read more about how the QWERTY board changed Peter’s life …
this page is still under construction. Watch this space…