Encouragement: Patrick Henry- more on “Be the Person Your Mom Would Be Proud of”.


It’s that time again. Here is the continuation of my book review of I Am Potential. My dad got the files back in order again tomorrow. Although I can’t imagine how they got rearranged in the first place. Below is some of the important information I gathered from the book. It pertains to how Patrick Henry first adjusted to reading using Braille and the continuation of the principle, “Be The Person Your Mom Would Be Proud of.

A Different Kind of Learning
Growing up with a disability never was an issue for Patrick Henry. That is, until the subject of reading came along; he didn’t understand the purpose for it… After all, he couldn’t see! What did it matter if he could read or write? Soon, learning Braille became a family affair. At first, the family used the Grade 1 system, learning all twenty-six letters of the alphabet in Braille and then connecting them to make words.

This system was very time-consuming and soon the family moved on to Grade 2 Braille. In this system, the idea of letters was still in place but contractions were also used in place of some words. In total, there are about 250 contractions in this system. Contractions were a combination of dots and dashes that formed complete words.

After a while, though, Patrick Henry surpassed his family in terms of learning Braille. Partly due to the help of his Braille Teacher in school, Ms. Nettie. But one thing remained to be seen, why was he learning to read if he couldn’t see like all the others? It wasn’t until Ms. Nettie came up with an association game. She made scratch and sniff flashcards with words. He would read the word in Braille on the card and then there would be a smell either of something associated to the word or an odor that starts with that letter. For example, if the word was “red” there might be a smell of a cherry on the card.

The Five Senses
As previously discussed, Patrick Henry loves to use his five senses to gain information about the world around him. But it wasn’t always like this. As a child, he was “painfully” aware about the acuteness of his hearing. So bad he couldn’t stand the song, “Happy Birthday” or the sound of applause. According to his parents, it was the audience’s way of showing their appreciation for his music.

“Suddenly, that became a different matter entirely; I liked it and wanted more,” Patrick says

Mom’s Role

Although John (Patrick Henry’s father) takes center stage in most of his son’s activities, Patrick Henry says he wouldn’t know what to do without his mom

“She took up my cause from day one,” he says

Like most parents, the family wanted the best for him; but they weren’t sure where to begin. Luckily, Patrick’s mom found the VIPs (Visually Impaired Preschool Services). Before long, she was an expert in her son’s disability- staying connected with the right specialists and doctors needed.

“The most impressive thing about mom is not just how much she accomplishes on any given day, but that you would never know that she was the one who did it,” he says.

And at that time, research was more difficult. After all, there wasn’t the capability of the Internet; countless hours were spent on the phone – contacting doctors and getting referrals.
Her ultimate goal: Making Patrick as independent as possible.

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