“different not less”

Ironically, I can’t speak.

“Well, what does it say?” my husband asks again.

My lips are trembling when I open my mouth, but I can’t get out the words. Tears are welling in my eyes, making it hard for me to breathe.

“Cry baby,” Peter gently jokes.

I’m sitting on the edge of the couch. I look away, down at Philip as he sleeps beside me. I gently rub his back to rouse him from his nap and to collect myself.

There will only be five words engraved on it, but they say so much more. That’s why I can’t talk. When I finally do croak out the words, I can only manage the last three words, “‘different, not less.'”


Exactly one week earlier, I was rendered equally mute. I know it was rude not to respond, but I could not speak.

My cell phone rang shortly after I arrived at work. I was surprised to see that it was my best friend’s number on the caller ID. We often chat during my lunch break and had done so just the day before. Curious as to why she was calling now, I answered. What she told me left me speechless.

“We are getting Philip an iPad,” she had said.

“Thank you” would have been the most appropriate response, but I was silent. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel gratitude, but that I was overwhelmed by it. I was sitting at my desk, struggling to maintain my composure, my mouth gaping open like a fish out of water. My friend, unable to see this but aware that I wasn’t talking, filled in the awkward silence asking for information she needed to place the order. Moving onto data loosened my tongue.


Exactly one week prior to this news, I had called this same friend in tears. I had just learned that my insurance would not cover the cost of an augmentative speech device for my non-verbal son. I could barely speak, but she listened. The day before, I had posted pictures and captions on Facebook showing Philip using one of the devices during a demonstration session. My friend shared in my frustration that Philip might not get a tool that so obviously could help him communicate.

During the evaluation, Philip sat working with this device for fifty minutes. He spent another half an hour wearing it with the built-in strap while the adults discussed the device.

During the evaluation, Philip sat working with this device for fifty minutes. He spent another half an hour wearing it with the built-in strap while the adults discussed the pros and cons of device versus iPad.

I told her how we might have to settle for an iPad. The company had recently developed an app. It wasn’t our first choice due to issues of durability and technical support. I also admitted that I wasn’t sure how we were going to pay for it.

Over the course of the next week when we chatted, my friend asked me questions about the iPad and app. I began researching grants as a source of funding. The next thing I know, my friend is telling me that her cousin’s husband, an Apple employee, is helping us getting the device for Philip.


We’ve been tracking the iPad as it shipped from China to Korea and arrived in the United States through Alaska. It arrived in the Midwest over the weekend and was delivered early this afternoon.

I’ve been excitedly telling coworkers about its imminent arrival. They can’t get me to shut up about it. But I still get choked up and can’t speak when I try to tell them about the words my friend had engraved on the back. She had revealed this to me a week after her announcement. When I tried to tell Peter, I couldn’t talk.

On the back of Philip’s iPad, the following quote from Temple Grandin is engraved:

I am different, not less.

A heartful thanks to those who made this picture possible

A heartful thanks to those who made this picture possible

15 thoughts on ““different not less”

  1. OMG! I am all teary now. Its not good timing since I’m in a mtng with my company execs. lol. This is really lovely. Our i-pad has been such a huge help for Jay. I really hope Philip finds it as helpful. Good friends are THE BEST!!!


  2. I read your post way back on the 20th of December and I am playing catch up with replying. You made me tear up at the time because I was so saddened to hear of the challenges you posted about earlier about getting an ACC device. We have faced the same hurdles with insurance, agencies, schools, hospitals, SLP referrals and SLP’s arguing because some felt he wasn’t ready but others felt he was beyond ready and double dipping of services to more paperwork trouble. I am so glad that you have a wonderful friend who helped out and I enjoy this new part of your journey with your son. I have a great App we use to practice printing skills that I can share with you.

    How does Phillip like it?

    Oh and did you get a protective case for it? I have one that we love more because it keeps it safe from our 2 year old lol.

    Love the quote on the back 🙂 It’s the best.


    1. For now, we have opted for a protective case that has a built-in speaker. The other cases that the SLPs have tried muffle the sound too much for use in a classroom.
      We’ve only been using the app for a week now. Philip is in the exploring stages (babbling, if you will). However, I think he is really going to like it and he will, of course, learn how to use it faster than all of us!


      1. Sounds great:) We use the “GUM DROP” case. Its super tough and the speaker is not muffled. It makes the iPad a tad heavy but super safe. I learned about it via Beverley School in Toronto that was featured over a year ago on 60 Minutes. They have pioneered the use of iPads extensively in the classroom and have gathered data so that school boards in North America can now try to advocate for funding and use of them in the classrooms. Here is a link to their VERY helpful blog http://ipadeducation.blogspot.ca/2012/09/ios6-in-my-classroom.html oh and this link too for when Phillip gets so good at the iPad that this will come in handy:) http://ipadeducation.blogspot.ca/2012_09_01_archive.html


        1. The SLPs thought the Gum Drop (which is compatible with the keyguard for the app) just wasn’t loud enough for the classroom. I deferred to them. I think the case we got is sturdy, but we’ll see how things go.


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