Looking Beyond Assumptions – Guest Post

I had the honour of meeting Tyrone Brown and his mother, Melody earlier this year. Tyrone is from Abbotsford BC and is an amazing self-advocate. Tyrone provides us with a very important message about making assumptions based on what we “see” on the surface. He also honours the champions who believed in him along the way, encouraging him to use his voice. I hope his story will inspire you as much as it inspired me. Tyrone, as well as his brother Lyndon, have graciously provided a few different posts for this blog which I am very much looking forward to sharing with you. I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section. ~KC

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Author: Tyrone Brown

My story is one of contrast as I am severely challenged with dyspraxia but I have succeeded to accomplish what many said I never would. The gifts I have been blessed with have been given wings through the belief in me by some of the most caring and dedicated people in this world.  As testament to their support, my personal achievements have been made public and my silent voice heard.  With being non-verbal the bias is that I have little cognitive ability but these passionate mentors have found respect for my hidden gifts and given life to the thoughts I had covered up in my inability to communicate verbally.

As I reflect on past experience and the darkest time in my life the light of hope was illuminated when my parents decided to send me and my brother to Abbotsford Virtual School for our education. The first promise of hope was when Shirley Crawford agreed to be my teacher assistant after parting ways two years earlier.  She had been one of the very few in the past who believed in my intelligence and chose to give me ways to voice my thoughts. We were a team and I knew we had a relationship that would give me confidence to do the regular curriculum work and take me to heights others said were impossible.  The negative thought of being considered mentally challenged was removed by the simple designation of physically challenged being accepted by the principal and staff who provided the assignments and marked them as they would any other student. With showing the reality of considerable intellect the principal, Mr. Hutchison, and many of the teachers took time to have conversations with me as I used my Lightwriter to converse with them.  The greatest gift that others can give me is faith in my abilities and the educators at AVS have continued to fulfill this hope I have personally longed for throughout my childhood.

Certainly confidence in my abilities was seen when my teacher, Faye Cassia, had me write an essay for the Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition.  As I was one of the winners of this worldwide writing competition my belief that the world would one day recognize my writing abilities, despite my inability to speak, was fulfilled.   Mr. Hutchison was proud a student from his school had won this competition and had our local MP, Mr. Fast, present me with a certificate from the Government of Canada.  Also, the announcement of my winning was printed in the local papers which let the community know of the abilities I possess.  These individuals that have given me wings will someday see that providing me with opportunity has had an impact on how the world views the non-verbal.

As I write poetry, my parents, along with my music teacher, Dr. Paul Hoelzley, decided to publish a book of my writings and produce a CD of the songs my poems had been put to.  My book “Big Changes Someday” was my dream come true.  As I have so often spent time as a patient at B.C. Children’s Hospital, as has my brother, I chose to take part of the proceeds of the sales of the book and donate it to the hospital.  To give back a small contribution to those who give their life to helping children who suffer was the greatest feeling as I have so often felt my inadequacy to help others.  My story told through my book has gone to Australia, Ireland, Chile, the United States and across Canada.  Having been able to display my abilities through my book I am grateful that the world has seen that a non-verbal person has intelligence.

Giving contemplation to how my life has been turned from despair to hope through others belief in me I am thankful my Lord sent these wonderful people into my life.  Their efforts to balance my life of severe disability, with allowing my abilities to be considered in stark contrast, by displaying my writings and giving me opportunity to work at my education, have determined my future.  With giving me their trust the migration from failure to success has happened and the flight to freedom from my silent suppression has come to pass.

Tyrone Brown

November 10, 2011

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