The night before Clay was headed to be on a panel at Arcadia University, my wife and he sat down to work on what he wanted to say.
The panel was for a class run by Networks for Training, the organization that has been helping us teach Clay how to communicate using a computer keyboard. The teacher, Joe Murphy, suggested that Clay prepare something before hand.
Here is what Clay typed the night before:
“My name is Clay. Thank you so much for having me at your class. So happy to be here. So lucky to be able to type. My life was poor before I was typing. Now I am a free soul.”
I was in Las Vegas at a speaking engagement of my own, so I missed seeing the little guy deliver his message in person. But my father captured some of it on video. Here is a clip of Clay hitting the speak button so the Communication Mentors Network class could hear his message.
After playing his message, Clay did a little bit of typing, mentioning his age, talking briefly about school and typing “stay” when asked if he wanted to hang around to hear more of the discussion.
Clay was nervous, as you would expect for his first time out showing off his typing skills in front of a large group. He spent a lot of time circling the room. Sitting down to type was out of the question.
After about 15 minutes, Clay, my wife and father moved to a quiet snack room down the hall. Clay was a bit calmer there. When my wife asked how he was doing, he typed: “So sorry. So stimmy.”
At home that night, my wife asked whether he would be willing to do this again.
“Sure,” he typed.
When I called later from the road to see how it had gone, Clay provided his assessment.
“So stressful,” he typed.
“So proud,” I told him. “So proud.”