Her Voice

EliseGwilliamLast Sunday was our ward’s Primary program and Elise’s first one participating in. When the speaking parts were assigned and passed out to each child, I was pleased to know that Elise had a speaking part as well. It is so nice to know and feel of everyone’s accepting and including Elise. The leaders and teachers have all done a remarkable job at tending to “the one” just as Christ would have done. Even though she is nonverbal and doesn’t show interest or involvement in what others are doing, I know she has a voice and wants to feel loved and included just as much if not more than other kids.

Elise’s “helper”, whose calling in our ward is specifically to be with Elise for the last two hours of church, has done an outstanding job and I’m so thankful for her. I’ve mentioned it several times to her, but I don’t think she fully grasps just how needed and helpful she is to Elise and me. After sacrament meeting gets done, she comes and gets Elise to take her to class. Frequently Elise will point to her bag repeatedly because she knows there are fruit snacks inside. Her helper donates a lot of fruit snacks for this little girl! When Elise needs a break, her helper is so good to take her on walks or step outside for a little bit.

For Elise, music time during Primary is her happy place. When the Primary was practicing for the program one Sunday, all the kids began singing, “Follow the Prophet.” For some reason, this song has become one of Elise’s favorite songs and she would giggle, twirl, and smile her wide-open mouth smile, showing just a little bit of her tongue sticking out to one side. Oh this girl knows how to make others and me smile!

The day of the program I had gotten everyone ready for church and was just about to leave when I picked up her ipad and noticed her communication app, Proloquo2go wasn’t on her ipad anymore. I got a sick feeling and knew her little brother had deleted the app. Normally this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but Elise was speaking in the Primary program and church was starting in 20 minutes.

She had to have the app.

I needed her to have the app.

This may not have been a big deal to anyone else but me, but I wanted so badly for her to say her part, to be a part of something that so often she isn’t a part of.

I said a silent prayer and tried to think of what to do amid all the chaos in my head. I went right to the app store where I began downloading it again. It was going very slowly since it is such a big file. I already knew all the data we had worked so hard at setting up would be lost because I hadn’t backed it up to our computer yet.

Five minutes before church, started the app was downloaded and I had managed to download her “Ella” voice as well. There are many different kinds of voices and accents on the app, but “Ella” is Elise’s voice. This again was something that meant a lot to me, hearing “Elise’s voice” rather than a robotic woman’s voice.

We arrived. I was flustered, but we were there and Elise was going to be able to say her part. The app downloaded an updated version of Proloquo that was just enough different that I struggled trying to figure out how to type in her speaking part. Once I figured that out, I breathed a sigh of relief and again silently thanked Heavenly Father for His help.

My little boy deleted Elise’s app at one of the worst times possible. However, that gave me a chance to see God’s hand at work. He made it possible for everything that meant so much to me to come together in perfect timing. It was a witness to me that He really is in charge and how important it is to turn to Him for help.

Elise was the first one to start the program. Her helper took her hand and walked with her up to the podium then helped her stand on the stool. She assisted Elise in touching her speaking part which was …

“I am a child of God.”

Tears filled my eyes. I often wonder what her real voice sounds like. I frequently have dreams of her speaking to me and feel so elated at hearing her. That moment, that two-second moment, felt like she had really spoken and I felt that same elation as when I dream of her. Her spirit is so strong and she bore a powerful witness that she is a child of God, as are all of us. It still amazes me how a two-second moment mattered to our Heavenly Father because He knew how much it would mean to me. It testified to me that He is very aware of … and cares for … the One.

3 Responses to “Her Voice”

  1. Cindy Cheney

    Thanks for sharing this experience, Lindsey. I am so glad that Elise was able to participate in the program. I look forward to the children’s program every fall and love to see each one of these precious children in their own unique way communicate the joy of the gospel and of life in a family here on earth. May the Lord continue to help and bless Elise and you and your family.

  2. Tanis Davidsen

    My daughter is 7 and has a neurological disorder called Rett Syndrome. She uses her talker to participate in our primary program, too. Each time she has done this (this is her 4th year on Sunday), the spirit is so strong and my heart is filled with so much joy and love for the people who accept the calling to be her “buddy” during primary and all the primary workers who treat her like every other child and make it possible for her to participate in the way she can.

  3. Julie

    I live in a rural part of the country and have driven a lot of miles to witness Primary Sacrament Presentations as part of the Stake Primary Presidency. One of my absolute favorites was in a little branch at the northern most point in our stake. They had a total of about eight children in their Primary, all Junior. Six of them were special needs. The Primary President wasn’t going to even attempt a Sacrament Meeting presentation, but we encouraged her to approach the Lord and gave her free reign to adapt. We didn’t know what to expect after the hour drive to reach the branch. After the Sacrament was administered, they brought in a little table and eight little chairs and parked them at the front of the room. (Phase I building. Think Scout room rather than chapel.) They had a mic and passed it around while the Primary President asked the children questions. Their answers, while often odd and off topic, did express threads that they had been listening. Something had gotten through. They sang a few songs, seated around the table, and treated the whole meeting as though they were in their own class. There were a couple of talks by adults and the congregation sang some of the songs with the children. There were children coming and going, announcing into the mic that they had to used the bathroom, one little girl jumping up and down the aisle and meowing like a cat. It was not “controlled” by any stretch of the imagination, but the spirit was there, the bishop was supportive, jumping up to help where he could, and we put a big check in the win column. It didn’t need to look and sound like a typical meeting. It was right for that branch and those kids.