LISTEN 
by Tony Diamonti
tdiamonti@hotmail.com

Don't just see me, hear me.
Don't just read my words, listen to them.
Listen to me, then look at me.
If you look first, you'll probably not see. 
Listening is the path to understanding me. 
Only seeing me, is blindness.
I'm not an empty dysfunctional carcass
you may see before your eyes, 
wallowing in a state of despair.

I am filled with joy and passion.
I have a spirit that moves me, frees me,
and lets me defy all those who say 
I cannot live life to its fullest.
I have a lot of love inside, with a passionate heart.
I have the humour and laughter of a circus clown.
I have creativity and intellect, 
and I am a sexual being.

In essence, my character identity is stifled 
by the lack of free flowing dialogue and interaction with you.
Yet, my inner voice often cries out 
LISTEN TO WHO I AM, AND SEE ME AS I TRULY AM!!!
We, who use alternative means of communication, need to be heard.
We need to be LISTENED to.
Don't just read our words; don't just hear our mechanical voices.
Listen to us as you would listen to others, speaking to you with their own voices.

Reprinted with permission from LOUD 'N CLEAR (Vol. 1, #1, June 2002), the first quarterly newsletter of Speaking Differently - A national organization for persons with disabilities who communicate in different ways. Speaking Differently (SD) now has a website at: http://home.istar.ca/~marshall/Speaking_Differently 
You will find a membership application form there. Annual Membership in Speaking Differently is $4.00 for AAC users, $10.00 for Non-user Friends, $50 for Non-user Benefactors, and $100 for Non-user Patrons. Send your cheque to Speaking Differently, c/o Department of Speech-Language Pathology, 6 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5H 3H2.