Stories |

What Does Your Voice Mean to You?

My youngest son Josh was born prematurely and had a Grade IV brain hemorrhage at birth, with complications that require a trach, intermittent ventilator support, and a feeding tube. Josh is considered to be non-verbal, however, we all know his subtle ways of communicating. For Josh, voicing opinions and preferences comes in a manner uniquely his own.

We believe a voice includes any means of communicating, including spoken word or using technology, gestures, facial expressions, or with the support of someone who knows you well. People who respect Josh’s abilities, and watch and observe how he communicates quickly learn what he is telling them.

Voices can be diverse, communication can be diverse. For people who get to know Josh, there is this aspect of respect, realization, and acceptance that not everybody communicates in the same way.

Everyone deserves to be heard – it’s part of a healthy and happy life.

The Arc Minnesota has made it possible for our family to have a successful stab at this journey with Josh through access to knowledgeable people and support along the way. Learning skills and feeling empowered is one of the most important ways people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can develop a voice of their own.

Debbi Harris

Mother and Supporter of The Arc