Jonathan Bryan, a 10-year-old boy was trapped for the first seven years of his life. Without being able to walk or speak, he expressed his emotions and needs through his eyes, arm gestures and smile.
A car accident in 2006 changed Jonathan’s life for ever. His mom Chantal was 36-weeks pregnant with Jonathan during the crash. The impact primarily affected Jonathan as it caused a placental abruption. Jonathan was born with severe cerebral palsy, kidney failure and supplemental oxygen dependency. Doctors told her parents that their baby would never be able to walk, communicate or recognize them and he has a limited life expectancy. One doctor even suggested them to stop the treatment. But after seeing their helpless baby, the parents Chantal and Christopher, decided to give him a chance. Jonathan had continuous dialysis until a kidney transplant at the age of three. A transplant infection caused him a severe lung damage and he will need to wear an oxygen tube to breathe for his entire life.
Jonathan was sent to a special school. Instead of trying to understand or communicate him, he was forced to follow the school standards. Jonathan’s parents were told he had ‘profound and multiple learning disabilities’ and teachers dismissed him as a lost cause. But his devoted mother was not ready to give up.
Chantal started to teach Jonathan letters, phonics and numeracy for an hour every morning from the age of seven. She taught him to spell by the age of nine, with the help of a spelling board with color coded alphabets. The concept was simple, his eye movement would determine whether he needed a noun, adjective or verb. He would then choose what he wants to say from a list of color coded words made by his mother. The process was very slow and hard, but his mom decided to continue with the same method until she witness a miracle. Gradually Jonathan was able to spell full words and he even managed to spell words that are not even in the list.
Despite all the predictions made by his doctors and teachers, Jonathan is now able to say anything he wanted just using his eyes. He has started a blog named ‘eyecantalk’, where he shares his poems, stories and experiences. He has even entered the BBC Radio 2 500 word story competition, taking 30 hours to write the piece using his eye movements and a spelling board. Jonathan attends mainstream school every afternoon and he is one of the top students in the class for maths. This brave boy wishes that every non-verbal child is taught to read and write.
Jonathan Bryan was mocked and neglected, but the love of his devoted mother has made him special and this story reminds us not to underestimate anyone!