Allow me to let my nerd-self outside its usual borders. Have you read Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis? The story in a nutshell: The main character of the story turns into an insect, and although he tries to make himself noticed, people simply don’t see him. He is invisible. If you can, imagine yourself in the following situation: You are surrounded by the people you love most in this world, and you want to tell them how you’re feeling, but you can’t. They see you, but you’re practically invisible to them. There are walls between you, just as in The Metamorphosis.
I think this is what life for Dustin — the inspiration for Dustin’s Words — must have been like. Of course his family loves him, and of course he loves them back. But how does one express it? How do you express all of your gratefulness if you simply can’t talk?
Dustin suffers from autism. Dustin is one of many, but this one can change the lives of many, drastically. Or, to be more precise, his brother, Matt, can. Matt designed a device called Dustin’s Words so that his brother could talk to his family. The device is designed so that when you push a button, a text goes straight to the mobile phones of your family/caretakers, and they immediately know what is on your mind. You don’t need to be side-by-side all the time, but you can still reach each other. Although the device was made specially for Matt’s brother, Dustin — as the name suggests — Matt and his friend are designing devices for other people suffering from the same problem too. The device can be customized so that it can meet the special needs of each individual family. It’s unbreakable, it’s familiar, and it’s simple. It’s the gift of words to the people who can’t talk. It’s the voice to the tuneless. It’s hope.
As Matt says on his own website:
“Growing up, I always said that if a Magic Genie ever granted me 3 wishes, I’d only need one. Help my brother be ‘normal’. I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as normal and in fact, he is more normal than I am..In designing this experience for him, I learned much more about him then I had known.”
Matt gave his brother the opportunity to say “I love you.” And isn’t that what we all want to say to our loved ones? This story is one that leaves you speechless but also leaves you wanting to talk about your feelings more often.
Take the time to tell your loved ones how you feel about them — because you can.
Read more about Dustin’s Words here.