An Avaz Megaphone Feature
The need for communication becomes really important during time of illness. In this short story, the author explores the state of mind of a non-speaking autistic teenager when they are unwell. Parents, educators and all kinds of caregivers will find the story very illuminating.
Shreya’s Pandemic Woes
Shreya, was a bubbly thirteen year old with a million dollar smile and eyes as deep as the ocean. At the moment she was lying on her bed, deep in thought. Rest was elusive even as she tried to sleep off her fever and fatigue. She was thinking back to the many times that she’d had cold and fever in the last thirteen years.
This was not the first time that Shreya had come down with a bout of viral infection. But this time, it was different on many levels! You see, the world was in the throes of Covid-19. The pandemic was putting up a very effective fight against the efforts of the best brains in science and medicine.
Painful Doctor’s Visits
Shreya, like everyone else in her family, was infected with Covid-19 . As she sipped on some warm water to relieve her itchy throat, Shreya thought about the numerous visits to her paediatrician. Her doctor would check her ears, nose, throat, stomach. AND every possible organ that was capable of being infected and making her sick. All this in a bid to figure out the cause for her sickness.
The doctor would, of course, be aided by intelligent guesses made by her parents. These guesses were based on Shreya’s frantic attempts, coupled with tears of sheer frustration, to express what was wrong. After all Shreya had non verbal autism. Her world was an abyss from where no voice could emerge!
Finding Her Voice
Things had begun to change for Shreya a year and half ago. That was when she began going to a new learning centre where she had been introduced to Avaz AAC. It was a text to speech communication app on her iPad. With time and practice she picked up the ability to type and communicate her thoughts. Shreya had finally found her voice.
Cut to today. This voice of hers held Shreya in good stead during the pandemic. She used Avaz to communicate her symptoms to her doctor. She was even able to answer the doctor’s questions . This time around, the doctor was able to treat her for the symptoms that she was actually experiencing. And not those that her parents and the doctor had managed to deduce.
Shreya was aware of the fact that a few people that contracted Covid-19 experienced respiratory difficulties, but she was at peace with herself. After all, even if she developed something like that, she now had a way to effectively communicate and ask for medical help.
The magical cure was not a myth anymore. Shreya had found her voice!
To the sceptical parents and those hesitant to introduce AAC to children – this piece is based on my own personal experiences growing up. I contracted Covid during the omicron phase. As scary as it was, a certain part of me was at peace. This was because I was able to communicate precisely what was bothering me – a key first step to receiving appropriate treatment .
Every human being has a right to be heard. Some of us find our voice through technology. While many may not perceive it as a ‘natural’ mode to communicate, denying us our voice is denying us our basic human right!
Avaz Megaphone is a platform for neurodivergent individuals to express themselves through the written word. We accept opinion pieces, short stories and poetry. Authors of accepted works will receive an honorarium. To make a submission please email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student & Writer
Aditi Sowmyanarayan is an eighteen year old who uses Avaz, a text to speech app, to communicate. She goes to Ishanya India Foundation, a special school in Bengaluru. Aditi is an avid blogger and an aspiring writer. She blogs on www.smallstepbigthought.blogspot.com
She can be reached on Instagram at writeaditi and on her Facebook page : small step big thought