It’s in my strongest belief that things happen for a reason and we cross paths with others for a greater purpose.
Another mother I know who’s son has an autism spectrum disorder posted a link to a new cafe opening a few months ago. I never got around to going for a while but when Ruby’s therapy times changed and she got off school early I managed to be passing through this area to pick the boys up from care. When I arrived I looked up to see people in the shop but the closed sign. I then turned to walk away but Adam opened the door and welcomed me in.
It was on that visit when we discussed his work as a support worker and that Peter Rowe for whom he supports would be in next week on a day showcasing some of his art. Like I said I believe strongly in fate and I’ve always been incredibly lucky with timing and this just happened to fall on the boys care day. I feel blessed to be given this opportunity through chain of events that could only be described as fate to meet Peter and his mother Betty.
When I walked into Cup From Above Adam introduced me to two of the most warm and inviting people with amazing smiles – Peter and Betty. I briefly introduced myself to Peter as he was being interviewed by a journalist. It was at that point I started talking to Betty and I explained our story and instantly felt a connection.
She told me decades ago when Peter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome she was told to institutionalise him and forget about him, of course she didn’t. Betty raised him just as she did her 5 other children before Peter.
Peter and Betty have an amazing relationship and you don’t need any words to see that. When you merely just observe the way they look at each other you get a complete sense that their bond is intense. After all it takes a person of strong conviction to forget the experts opinion and raise Peter as a human being not someone who has a disability.
For the first 30 years of his life no one had any idea that Peter was as articulate as he is as they were not even aware he could even communicate. Then one day when Peter was shown Facilitated Communication about 25 years ago it was suddenly like a door had been unlocked to Peter’s mind. Peter was given a casio keypad to spell out his first shared thoughts.
You see all those years Peter had been writing stories in his head without anyway to communicate them to the people around him. He told me his first words were I love you to both his mother and father. Peter also told me he cried the entire day tears of joy because he thought he would never be able to tell his Mum and Dad that. Betty added that the next thing he said was “If they don’t believe me, I will show them.” I think therein lies the beauty of communication and his first shared words were that of empowerment.
After all the journalist had finished doing their interviews with Peter we all sat around the table Adam, Peter, Betty, Myself and at some points Ruby (She was a bit tired and cranky with all the sitting around waiting.) We talked like old friends and I learnt just how articulate Peter actually is.
Peter is many things a Poet, Musician, Artist, Author and above all a human being just like anyone else. Just sitting around sharing a coffee with such amazing people helped break down any barrier of disability and really I didn’t see any disability in Peter at all because he is probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve had a conversation with. I’m so glad he now has the opportunity to be heard.
Ruby and I were delighted and touched when Betty asked Peter if he would like to give Ruby his books. Peter being the lovely person he is obliged and we are forever grateful because they are some of the most beautiful books we’ve had the pleasure to own. He not only wrote the stories himself, illustrated but also worked with a graphic designer to put the words and pictures together. All ideas and directions are Peter’s own. Ruby can not stop talking about Peter and his books and she is just enamoured. Honestly it’s been one of the best gifts we’ve ever been given. I also love that while they are children’s books they have a deeper undertone that is autobiographical.
I applaud Peter and Betty and also Adam for being advocates for those who are unheard because they haven’t been given the opportunity to share their stories. Something I have always believed is that everyone has an amazing story to tell, you just have to afford them the time to tell you that story. Whatever reasons may have led me here at this point in time I’m grateful for because I walked away from Cup From Above with a great appreciation for these people to share their stories.