Friends Forever

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, Regulation

As the man behind the Muppets, Jim Henson, once said, “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” But I bet if I asked Caden and Joel to come up with one, not only would it be spot on, but it would make you laugh as well! But let me back up…who are Caden and Joel, you might ask? Well, they are two young men who spell to communicate who live across the country from each other. 

When COVID arrived, and we at GKTC quickly switched to virtual, they were two of the first out of towners to become regulars in our online groups. To many of us, the pandemic has perhaps been the worst thing that could have happened. A justified feeling! But to Caden and Joel, it was full of silver linings, the biggest being that they discovered their friendship. As the leader of two of the groups they were in, I was lucky enough to witness it from the very beginning, and I’ll be plotting to be in the room when they finally meet in person!

I could write all day about what I’ve seen, the joy that they bring ME, having been witness to their chats, but I wanted to interview them and let them tell you a little about how they feel about their friendship and friendship in general. Oh, and if you like puns? This is one blog you do NOT want to miss! 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, Regulation

Kelly: So Caden and Joel, why is friendship important to you? 

Joel: I MAKE MYSELF HAPPY WHEN I AM WITH FRIENDS.

Caden: AWESOME PEOPLE SHOULD ALWAYS TRY TO SHARE THEIR AWESOMENESS WITH OTHERS.

Joel: FRIENDS GIVE ME PERSPECTIVE TO LIFE.

Caden: LETS ME FEEL AS THOUGH I AM NOT ALONE. MAKES MY LIFE MEANINGFUL TO TAKE AWAY SOMEONE ELSE’S LONELINESS.

Caden: (IN RESPONSE TO JOEL’S COMMENT ABOUT PERSPECTIVE) THAT’S TRUE, MY FRIENDS SHOW ME A LOT OF NEW IDEAS.

Joel: I DON’T BELIEVE YOU CAN TAKE AWAY LONELINESS, BUT YOU CAN INSPIRE TOGETHERNESS. I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM YOU.

Caden: TRUE, AWESOME TO INSPIRE TOGETHERNESS.

Joel: YOU ALWAYS DO.

Caden: I TRY TO ALWAYS LEARN FROM EVERYONE.

Joel: THAT IS SO COOL.

Kelly: We just learned the first Sunday in August is National Friendship day! If you guys were together on National Friendship Day, how would you want to spend the day?

Joel: SINCE IT IS IN AUG. IN A POOL.

Caden: AT A HORSE FARM TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO RIDE FROM JOEL.

Joel: EATING ICE CREAM. DF (dairy-free) OF COURSE

Caden: SWIMMING SOUNDS FUN, AND I WILL NEVER TURN DOWN ICE CREAM

Joel: WITH YOUR MOTOR SKILLS RIDING WILL BE A CINCH

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, RegulationKelly: Some animals form bonds of friendship as well. What is something that you think makes the bond of friendship In humans different

Joel: COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

Caden: PEOPLE ARE DEFINITELY ABLE TO APPRECIATE DIFFERENCES MORE THAN ANIMALS.

Kelly: How have your friendships changed since you started to Spell to Communicate? 

Joel: MY FRIENDS NOW BELIEVE I AM SMART.

Caden: HAVING COMMUNICATION ALLOWS PEOPLE SO MUCH MORE INSIGHT INTO WHO I REALLY AM.

Joel: RIGHT ON CADEN.

Caden: THAT HELPS A LOT, TO REALLY SHOW MY INTELLIGENCE.

Kelly: What is something that you think friendship can inspire? 

Joel: SOCIAL JUSTICE. WORLD PEACE.

Caden: MORE LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE IN THE WORLD.

Joel: GOOD HEALTH

Caden: I THINK THAT IS A GOOD POINT.

Kelly: What is a fitting way that you would like to celebrate your friendship?

Joel: MOTORMORPHOSIS

Caden: TAKE A TRIP TO GKTC

Joel: BOARDS AND CHORDS IN PERSON

Kelly: What is a contribution that the other has made to your life?

Joel: IT IS HUGE. I CAN SEE REASONS TO BE ALIVE.

Caden: SO MANY, HE IS MY BEST FRIEND AND HAS DEFINITELY MADE ME SMILE AND LAUGH, AND JOEL SHOWED ME HOW TO ALWAYS HAVE A SONG IN MY HEAD. THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND. 

Joel: Caden, how can I be more useful to you?

Caden: ALREADY AWESOMELY USEFUL TO ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO BE MY FRIEND.

Joel: CADEN IS SUCH A SUPER FRIEND. I THINK HE IS PERFECT HOW HE IS.

Kelly: What is unique about your friendship?

Joel: WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER ON A VIBRATIONAL LEVEL. WE BOTH DID SON RISE. WE BOTH WRITE SONGS.

Caden: MAY NOT LOOK LIKE OTHER FRIENDSHIPS, BUT IT IS SO SPECIAL BECAUSE WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER IN WAYS THAT OTHERS CANNOT.

Joel: I AGREE. IT IS LIKE BEING IN THE SAME FISHBOWL. EXCEPT CADEN IS A GYMNASTIC FISH. I AM AN EEL. ELECTRIC EEL.

Caden: SINCE WE KNOW ATTITUDE IS IMPORTANT, WE LOOK AT LIFE IN SIMILAR WAYS. YOU’RE A TUNA BECAUSE YOU LIKE TO WRITE TUNE-AS.

Joel: ELECTRIFIED TUNAS

Caden: MAYBE I’M A PORPOISE BECAUSE I LIKE PORPOISEFUL ACTIVITIES.

Joel: CADEN, YOU ARE HILARIOUS

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, RegulationKelly: How do you think your friendship would be different if you were together, in person, more often?

Joel: INSEPARABLE

Caden: WE COULD REALLY GET A FEEL FOR EACH OTHER’S MOVEMENTS AND SOUNDS.

Joel: I WISH CADEN LIVED HERE BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN OH.

Caden: WE COULD ENJOY NATURE TOGETHER.

Joel: I AGREE. IT IS NICE IN THE NW (northwest).

Caden: IT’S CHEAPER HERE AND SNOWIER. IT IS ALWAYS RAINING THERE, AND RAIN HURTS MY HEAD.

Joel: NO WORRY OUR SONGS WILL BRING IN MILLIONS

Caden: LET’S BOTH MOVE TO VIRGINIA.

Kelly: What do you think is better? 1000 FB friends or one real-life friend? 

Joel: ONE FRIEND, THE OTHERS ARE JUST GOSSIP BUDDIES

Caden: IT IS NO CONTEST. A REAL FRIEND FEELS MORE VALUABLE THAN A MILLION ACQUAINTANCES.

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPM, Practitioner, RegulationKelly: Would you say you prefer friends that have more in common with you? Why or why not?

Joel: I LIKE PEOPLE WHO ARE KIND. THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO LIKE ME. 

Caden: ALL PEOPLE ARE VALUABLE, BUT IT IS AWESOME TO HAVE AUTISTIC FRIENDS BECAUSE THEY ARE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND ME IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

Kelly: You two are both nonspeakers. What does it mean to you to have a friend who has that in common with you? 

Joel: HE CAN REALLY KNOW WHAT LIFE IS LIKE FOR ME. I LOVE NONSPEAKERS.

Caden: HE ALWAYS UNDERSTANDS WHEN MY BODY IS NOT A FRIEND TO ME. EVERYONE MAKES AN EFFORT TO GET IT, BUT JOEL REALLY KNOWS.

Kelly: In what ways has your friendship with each other influenced you?

Joel: CADEN HELPS ME BE CALMER AND KINDER TO MYSELF. I FEEL HAPPIER WHEN CADEN IS AROUND.

Caden: HIS FRIENDSHIP HAS TAUGHT ME SO MUCH ABOUT HELPING OTHERS SEE THE AWESOMENESS INSIDE OF THEMSELVES. IT IS AWESOME TO HAVE JOEL AS MY FRIEND.

 

So there you have it. What for many has been the worst of times, for some,  has been the best of times. I’m thankful that our quick pivot online has led to such a wonderful friendship, and I look forward to spending many more afternoons with spellers locally and across the country! 

If you are interested in making some new friends and would like to join one of our online groups, please email julie@growingkidstherapy. Caden, Joel, and I would love to see you there! 

 

S2C, Spelling to Communicate, nonspeaking, nonspeakers, Autism, I-ASC, Speller, nonverbal, RPMKelly Berg is an S2C Practitioner at Growing Kids Therapy Center and a member of the I-ASC Leadership Cadre living in Herndon, Virginia. She, too, is incredibly thankful for those she is lucky enough to call friends. 

 

 

 

The mission of I-ASC is to advance communication access for nonspeaking individuals globally through trainingeducationadvocacy and research I-ASC supports all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) with a focus on methods of spelling and typing. I-ASC currently offers Practitioner training in Spelling to Communicate (S2C) with the hope that other methods of AAC using spelling or typing will join our association

2 responses to “Friends Forever”

  1. Sherri Maxwell-Nickel says:

    This is such an incredible story of success and a real “Silver Lining” to the pandemic! Thank you for sharing your story of friendship.

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