“My Voice”: A Poem

By Grace Trumpower for AAC Awareness Month

Author’s Note: Sociology suggests that the average person waits about two to four seconds before expecting a response from their communication partner in any given conversation, which puts people who use augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) at a significant disadvantage.
I use AAC to help me move past scripted responses and say what I am really thinking. Speech is very tiring for me, and I often use a script instead of what I want to say to avoid a longer conversation. Sometimes I lose my speech entirely, and my speech device allows me to continue to participate in social interactions. It has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, but I am often frustrated because people do not like to wait for me to finish typing. It is important to respect a person’s chosen method of communication and make conversations accessible to everyone, and it is worth the effort, too; you never know what amazing things you might get to hear!

My Voice

I revel in my silence 
like a child revels in the splashing of a swimming pool. 
I am cool and calm and free.
I don’t want to be pulled into the noise. 
But the world doesn’t give me 
a choice.
Insisting that the words from my fingers 
cannot be 
my real voice. 

But they are. 

I could retire 
my old, empty 
scripts left hanging limply 
from the edge of my lips 
and give you something 
with a little more substance. 
you would only let me. 

You see, my mouth always says things like 
That’s great!
Sure, okay.”
But I struggle to so much as
narrate my day.
And, in the end, I give you nothing.

I could tell you my hopes and my dreams and my fears
and what I see myself doing 
these next twenty years. 
If only you’d WAIT 
but you WON’T. 

I feel sorry for the both of us.

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