In September 2016, Matthew learned that he had ALS.
Asked what life with the progressive neurological condition is like, he offered an unassuming one-word answer: “Challenging.”
Roughly 75 percent of individuals with ALS eventually require some type of AAC intervention. Matthew learned of AAC technology through an ALS support group at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, where he receives speech therapy. With the Tobii Dynavox Communicator 5 software on a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet solution, Matthew has the power to say necessary things as well as to share stories about his life, past and present.
"I need to be able to speak."
Soon after, Matthew decided to head to the Pacific Northwest, where his life and labors as a lumberjack, rancher, and farmer were very satisfying. Around the late 1980s, he found himself missing Chicagoland and so Matthew moved back to Riverside, IL. Hunting, fishing, singing and dancing were always his favorite ways of having fun.
Matthews life quickly changed after the ALS diagnosis, but the things that really matter are still the same. In his social circles, people know Matthew as the guy usually wearing suspenders. Matthew jokes about growing older and physically slowing down, revealing the wholesome balance he has struck between keeping a positive outlook and practicing common sense as the illness takes its course.
Using Communicator 5, Matthew reaches out to friends in person or through letters he writes using the software, and offer an explanation of his new way of talking. There are no apologies whatsoever.
Matthew is just happy to engage in life.