easily broken or damaged or destroyed
Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes—each one
delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.
the real physical matter of which a person or thing consists
They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have
express in speech
My parents have always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They
verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered her strength into my ear.
take up mentally
Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I
absorbed and kept and remembered.
Her body tends to move on its own agenda, with feet sometimes kicking out unexpectedly and arms occasionally
flailing, connecting with whatever is close by—a stack of CDs, a bowl of soup, a vase of roses.
a mental representation
I can almost hear colors and smell
images when music is played.
a particular point in time
I suppose it’s a good thing to be unable to forget anything—being able to keep every
instant of my life crammed inside my head.
aroused to impatience or anger
I couldn’t roll over, so it was just an
irritated me, the shag rug, and the smell of spilled sour soy milk in my face until I got rescued.
take to be the case or to be true
He always spoke to me as if he were talking to a grown-up, using real words and
assuming I would understand him.
the power of retaining and recalling past experience
Here’s the thing: I’m ridiculously smart, and I’m pretty sure I have a photographic
memory. It’s like I have a camera in my head, and if I see or hear something, I click it, and it stays.
summon knowledge from memory
These kids could remember complicated strands of numbers and
recall words and pictures in correct sequence and quote long passages of poetry.
the lines spoken by characters in drama or fiction
I even remember the
dialogue from each show and the commercials in between.
make a high-pitched noise
I sometimes can’t breathe real well when this happens, but I have to because I need to
screech and scream and jerk.
a violently destructive windstorm occurring over land
These things—I call them my “
tornado explosions”—are pieces of me. All the stuff that does not work gets balled up and hyped up. I can’t stop, even though I want to, even though I know I’m freaking people out. I lose myself.
a drug that reduces excitability and calms a person
He sent a prescription for a
sedative, but Mom didn’t give it to me.
subject to psychoanalytic treatment
I’ve seen dozens of doctors in my life, who all try to
analyze me and figure me out.
so great in size, force, or extent as to elicit awe
Stupendous!” he shouted. He praised me like I had just passed the test to get into college.
a long and complex sonata for an orchestra
I knew the words and melodies of hundreds of songs—a
symphony exploding inside my head with no one to hear it but me.
give the name or characteristics of
identify hundreds of words on sight.
being unable to perform due to physical or mental unfitness
So I put on my
handicapped face and took my mind back to last summer when Mom and I went to the zoo.
an appraisal of the worth of something
My mom and the doctor had no idea why I was smiling as we rolled into the waiting room while he wrote up his
evaluation of me.
to a great depth psychologically
“Mrs. Brooks,” he then said, “it is my opinion that Melody is severely brain-damaged and
utter words of objection
Finally, she took a deep breath and
protested quietly, “But I know she’s bright. I can see it in her eyes.”
the quality of being restricted
It takes time to accept the
limitations of a beloved child.
of or relating to the brain
cerebral palsy, Mrs. Brooks.
identifying the nature or cause of some phenomenon
“But a person is so much more than the name of a
diagnosis on a chart!”
a serious or difficult concern
Was I a
burden? I never thought about it like that. Maybe it would be easier for them if I weren’t around.
what something is used for
You’ve got it easy—you have all your physical
functions working properly. You never have to struggle just to be understood.
an inherent cognitive or perceptual power of the mind
All of us who have all our
faculties intact are just plain blessed.
transmit thoughts or feelings
Melody is able to figure out things,
communicate, and manage in a world where nothing works right for her.
when one cannot perform due to physical or mental unfitness
I am in a special program with other children with what they call “
an illness, disease, or other medical problem
There are six self-contained learning communities in our wing of the building—children with various
conditions, from preschoolers to kids who ought to be in high school by now.
a person skilled in a particular type of care
When we do what the teachers and
therapists call “group” activities, it’s hard for Ashley to participate.
There are also a few
necessary phrases, like, I need to go to the bathroom, please and I’m hungry, but most people—even little kids—need to say more than that in a day.
freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities
“All kids are special,” Mrs. V had replied with
the inherent capacity for coming into being
“We want her to reach her highest
potential,” Dad added.
cause to slow down or get stuck
bogged down in all those touchy-feely words and phrases you read in books on disabled kids. Melody is a child who can learn and will learn if she sticks with me!”
sharing the feelings of others, especially sorrow or anguish
From the very beginning, Mrs. Valencia gave me no
a collection containing an assortment of things
Every single space on my talking board got filled with names and pictures of people in my life, questions I might need to ask, and a big
variety of nouns and verbs and adjectives, so I could actually compose something that looked like a sentence!
an imperfection in an object or machine
I have magic thumbs, by the way. They work perfectly. The rest of my body is sort of like a coat with the buttons done up in the wrong holes. But my thumbs came out with no
flaws, no glitches.