This I Believe

Robert - Allen, Texas
Entered on February 11, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

For This I Believe:

I Believe in the Power of the Spoken Word.

I believe in the power of words, but not in just the written word; but in power of the spoken word. I know personally the power of the spoken word since I was born legally blind and the spoken word was how I saw my world.

My sight was so bad I kept running into things and hurting myself. In the 1950s there was no such thing available as corrective laser surgery. It wasn’t until 1964 when the corneas of my eyes were reshaped with a scalpel and a lot of pain. Up until I was 9 I tended to keep my eyes closed since it hurt for me to focus. To me, the spoken words emanating from our large table radio held a world of pictures. I didn’t needed television when the radio provided better pictures for me with my eyes shut.

I learned as a child to chuckle at Jack Benny, laugh like The Great Gildersleeve, or taste the dust at Dodge City on Gunsmoke. The radio and spoken word records were how I learned to lose myself in the world of words. What these programs gave me were great actors and my great imagination. In later years I was fortunate enough to thank many of the great radio actors personally at Old Time Radio conventions.

Since I gained enough sight to have “near” normal vision I went to school. And although I was a “marginal” student I did go onto college and worked both in the computer field and most recently as a computer teacher. In both cases words were the tools I used to express my ideas either in computer programs or their concepts to my students.

My students, whom I call my “scholars”, are what are known as “special needs students”. My scholars think, feel, and deal with a world that they process quite differently than most. For you see my scholars, as well as my own son, has an autistic disorder known as Asperger’s Syndrome.

I describe Asperger’s Syndrome as a disorder that allows the great concentration on certain interests; but no natural ability to handle social situations. As an example my scholars could recite, from memory, all the rules from Emily Post; but none of them would know when and how to use any of those rules in real life.

I could really relate to my scholars. Just as my scholars were limited seeing social cues; I, at their age, was limited seeing the world around me. Due to my blindness I became lost in a world of my own imagination. I had to learn to focus and see the world around me. That was what I taught my scholars to learn. They learned to focus on the world around them; while I learned how to teach them and in the long run we were both successful beyond words!