I just received a phone call
“Sorry Susie to disturb you again, but I just had to tell you that I am going on holiday this year with my group of workmates. I also wanted to tell you that in May I will be competing again after so long in a horse-riding tournament. I am really pleased to be going on holiday with the work-mates and I will have to practise a lot for the riding competition. I am really excited about it. Granddad is well enough to come and watch me.”
All of this took a long time. It was my almost twenty-one-year-old client, a young man with athetoid cerebral palsy, who had phoned on Thursday just for a chat, and again so apologetically tonight to impart his important news.
I find it quite difficult when I have not met him for a few months and when I am not face to face with him, to understand what he is telling me about.
As well as making himself understood on the phone he seems to be doing quite well in making his wishes clear to his horse-riding instructress.
I have very rarely, in the fourteen years that I have known him, heard this young man say that it does not matter when someone does not understand him. It always matters to him and, what is more important, it matters to the person he is talking to. Everyone has been encouraged by his family, and when I am there by me, to keep on listening to the end of the story. By asking questions and working it out together it is always worth it in the end, because this young man always has something interesting to say.
I congratulate him on the patience that he has learnt. The patience to wait for his own body to carry out the movements that he wishes to make, the patience to control his limbs and try again and again.
He has the same patience when he speaks, as he tries to make words clear, and he also has the patience that he has developed for other people as they try their hardest to understand him. I admire him for phoning me regularly and not getting despondent when even I, who should do it better than others, do not always understand him.