Bringing Up Bruno

How a boy with severe disabilities beat the odds.

Bringing Up Bruno, Part 2

About that time everything changed. The school supplied Bruno with a special computer that read his books to him, and also provided a quiet room where he could give answers to tests verbally and write papers by dictating them into the computer. They allowed him to use calculators and tape recorders — anything he needed to enable his learning. That year he got all As and Bs. "He'd been struggling with school for years, and with the right approach he flowered," says Ann.

What Bruno lacked in elocution he gained in knowledge and breadth of his vocabulary. "My life is better in so many ways," says Bruno. "My schoolwork has improved dramatically. I love eating and cooking many kinds of food. I have changed from a kid who doctors thought would not walk into a swimmer and soccer player!"

Fortunately, other kids never teased or taunted Bruno, who was still tiny for his age. "The kids at school are very protective of him," says his mother. "And his classmates have always responded well to him."

Without the pressure to read, Bruno became a sponge for information. When the Taylors returned to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the city's "open school" followed through on what Bruno had accomplished in Palo Alto. Computers, aides, quiet study, and test-taking rooms are all available to him.

Bruno today

Bruno is now in the eleventh grade. He is an articulate, well-read youngster who still struggles to make his words sound right. While his performance is uneven (he is at the twelfth-grade level in some subjects but at the third-grade in others), he was on the high school honor roll for two years, and he hopes to go to Landmark College, a school specializing students with learning disabilities and ADHD. "That would be the ultimate for me," Bruno says.

No doubt, he'll reach his goals. Today, the boy with heart and brain problems, who couldn't read, write, speak, or eat, is now working as a part-time chef at Ann Arbor's trendy Jefferson Market. Bruno Taylor never met a person he didn't like, and his warmth creates a glow around him.

"It's like opening a door and finding a beautifully-wrapped present outside," says Ann. "You open the present and find an exquisite jewel box inside." And in that jewel box is a baby boy, destined for a journey few of us could have endured—always with a smile on his face that seems to say, "I can do anything." And there's no doubt he will.

Names have been changed.

This article appears in the Winter issue of ADDitude.
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