Last night, I went to a meeting of the New Voice Club of the Niagara Frontier. I had been invited to come as a guest speaker by second vice president Sue Bognar, a speech-language therapist, whom I had met in the Grand Island Community Chorus. She also serves as the club's speech advisor. The topic of my talk was dealing with disabilities by journaling.
Sue read a story that I had written about my sensory processing and auditory processing disorders. In a nutshell, my sensory processing disorder causes me to be hypersensitive to certain stimuli, such as light touch, scratchy clothes, smells, and competing noises. My auditory processing disorder means that I have difficulty understanding what I hear, especially when there are competing sounds. I have learned some compensation strategies with the help of speech-language therapists at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
I shared with the group different methods of keeping a journal. These include a traditional diary, a blog, and a visual journal/sketchbook. I brought samples of each type of journal. I talked about the reasons for keeping journals. They vary, depending on the type of journal one keeps. With a traditional diary, I can write down private thoughts, knowing that no one will see them but me. With a blog, I can share ideas and pictures with the world. With my visual journal, I can draw pictures of things that might be important to me that day. For example, when Benazir Bhutto was killed, I drew her picture in my sketchbook as a tribute to her. Other reasons for keeping a journal include brainstorming ideas or working through fears and developing one's creativity. In addition, for people who have difficulty communicating and difficulty being understood, maintaining a journal is an excellent outlet.
The New Voice Club was a wonderful group to speak to. They asked great questions when I was done speaking and they were very kind and welcoming to me.
The New Voice Club does some interesting projects. One of the most interesting is that the group's members, many of whom are cancer survivors, go to schools to try to discourage kids from starting to smoke and try to encourage kids who are already smoking to quit. This is a great public service that they perform. The club, by the way, is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
I felt very inspired by members of the New Voice Club. The laryngectomees have been through so many difficult times... cancer, surgery, learning to speak again, learning to adjust to the world with a disability... Their new voices may sound expressionless, but the words that they say are far from expressionless. They have stories of difficulty and of strength to tell, for everyone to hear.
I truly enjoyed my experience with the New Voice Club and am so happy to have made some new friends!
Pictured above is Charlie Roszak, the club president.