By Roberto Rojas
On March 29, Sacred Heart University presented another edition of their spring Human Journey Colloquia Series with a discussion led by Miles Forma, a 29-year-old man born with cerebral palsy.
During the presentation, Forma shared his personal stories about nonverbal communication and how Cerebral Palsy has affected his lifestyle.
The event called “Accessing Augmentative & Alternative Communication Devices for Cerebral Palsy,” demonstrated the story of Forma as a young boy to an adult with a disability that didn’t let him to speak.
Cerebral Palsy occurs when there is damage to the brain that leads to trouble in moving the body.
Some students were moved by Forma’s story as he spoke from his augmentative communication device, the Dynavox DV Five Plus.
“It’s just inspiring to know that while he has a disability, he still has someone to help,” said freshman Danielle Chiavola. “His story was incredible to hear.”
During the beginning of the presentation, students were presented with a 20 minute video produced by ABC News’ Nightline program that featured Forma’s life story.
“It’s great to see that he is still willing to help out in the world,” said freshman Nicole DeMaria. “His message was clear and inspiring to all of us that attended his discussion.”
It shows Forma’s experiences from being treated in Hungary at four years old to getting help by the Artificial Language Lab and how he and his family worked together with the Lab and with their Jewish community to accomplish Forma’s goal.
“I want people to respect me for who I am and not feel sorry for me,” said Forma in the video by ABC News.
During his presentation, Forma focused on how he is able to speak through his synthetic communication device with the help of his various physicians from the Artificial Language Lab and speech therapists at school.
“Many of them helped me a lot during school,” said Forma. “They would repeat words over and over until I got a basic understanding of it.”
He spoke about the struggles that he faced at an early age and how he was able to reach his goals later on in life.
“I was getting frustrated with my Dynavox that I stopped bringing it to school,” said Forma. “After I moved to New Hampshire when I was 13, the speech therapist there really helped me use my Dynavox and say what I always wanted to say.”
Forma also highlighted the importance of getting help from others in order to achieve personal goals.
“It is important to never give up,” said Forma. “Because if you do, you will never want to accomplish what you really want to do. Reach out to people for help when and if needed.”