I’m delighted to be taking part in the tour today for Eye Can Write by Jonathan Bryan.
Jonathan is 12 years old and is truly inspirational. Severe cerebral palsy meant he had to find another way to communicate… which he did.
I decided to write my memoir as a voice for the voiceless, to show people that you can’t make assumptions based on outward appearances, and to make a difference for children like me in education. To that end I am donating all of my proceeds to my charity Teach Us Too envisaging a world where all children are taught to read and write regardless of their label.
Here’s more information about Jonathan’s memoir:
Can you imagine not being able to speak or communicate? The silence, the loneliness, the pain. But, inside you disappear to magical places, and even meet your best friend there. However, most of the time you remain imprisoned within the isolation. Waiting, longing, hoping. Until someone realises your potential and discovers your key, so your unlocking can begin. Now you are free, flying like a wild bird in the open sky. A voice for the voiceless.
Jonathan Bryan has severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes him incapable of voluntary movement or speech. He was locked inside his own mind, aware of the outside world but unable to fully communicate with it until he found a way by using his eyes to laboriously choose individual letters, and through this make his thoughts known.
In Eye can Write, we read of his intense passion for life, his mischievous sense of fun, his hopes, his fears and what it’s like to be him. This is a powerful book from an incredible young writer whose writing ability defies age or physical disability – a truly inspirational figure.
Foreword by Sir Michael Morpurgo
Jonathan is sharing with us his thoughts on inclusion. It is so important to listen to young learners. They often know what helps and if they don’t, you can talk about and agree on the different strategies and resources to try that might help to access social opportunities as well as in the classroom.
What have been the most effective ways that people have included you?
Throughout my life I have been blessed with friends who have included me in their games, friends who value me and accept me as I am. This has worked best when adults have found creative ways for inclusion to happen; the most wonderful experience I had of this was on class residential where the centre decided I would join in every activity. With some forward planning and adaptation, I found myself in a double canoe, being hoisted up a climbing wall and being helped to join in fencing.
At school the lessons which work the best are the ones where teachers have asked me group questions in advance and I have all the PowerPoints on my computer where I can see them. Similarly, at church questions for group discussion are sent in advance.
Good inclusion comes down to a mindset where things are possible, and the ability to be flexible to make that a reality.
(High expectations is a key word at my school. If you haven’t heard of the Pygmalion effect take a look here.)
How easy is it for you to include friends in your life?
This is an important question, because inclusion can’t be seen as a one-way street. Just as I hope people will adapt things for me, I also need to think creatively about how I can include my friends. Last year, this was really easy: my birthday fell in the same week as the My Life programme was broadcast so we had a party at home complete with pretend red carpet, and in the summer we organised a coach so my friends could come to the Eye Can Write book launch. This year I will need to be a bit more creative!
Jonathan Bryan is the twelve-year-old author of Eye Can Write and founder of the charity, Teach Us Too (who are receiving all his proceeds from the book). Faith, family and friends sum up all that is important to him. He also passionately campaigns for all children to be taught to read and write regardless of their educational label, for which he has been awarded a Diana Legacy Award and a Pearson Young Person of the Year Award. Jonathan blogs at Eye Can Talk. Tweet with him at @eyecantalk
Author interviews on Jera’s Jamboree.