My niece is, for intents and purposes, mute. She lies there with her eyes closed most of the time. I say her name loudly, perhaps too loudly, and she opens her eyes. They usually don’t stay open for long. From gaze, I can’t tell if she recognizes me. She is focused on the mid-distance. Her eyes are glassy.
I talk to her, trying to get a response. This process seems oddly familiar. I realize that for most of my life I tried to get a response from my brother Mike. He is nonverbal, low functioning and autistic. The difference today is, the person I was trying to get to respond was once, high functioning. Perhaps she will function again when she is not so groggy.