Kyram Dear and 1 John 3:16


Some key facts about Kyram:

Age 12, can’t walk, sit or stand up on his own.  Hearing impaired and mute. Has sleep apnea (tendency to stop breathing when asleep).  Requires 24 hour quality professional care. Born 4 month premature with cerebral palsy and has limited or sporadic control of his muscles.

Photos courtesy of author.

Sure, some key facts about Kyram, but they don’t tell the whole story.  At least part of the story has to be inspiring!  His totally dedicated father, Myles Dear, told us, “There are a few muscles he has harnessed under his control consistently – the tongue click being one of them. Although he can’t control his tongue to form words, he can at least click the tongue consistently, and that’s driving his communication.”

But more recently, Myles reminded us that “In 2016 Kyram  suffered a sudden neurological collapse that took away his tongue click but also allowed him to use his eye tracker with an accuracy never before possible.”

Some years ago, an amazing breakthrough for Charlane MacKenzie, a long-time caregiver and Myles who through eye-blinks and tongue-clicks had succeeded in establishing initial non-verbal communication with Kyram.

Communication and learning interaction is now much further advanced thanks to sophisticated eye tracker keyboard technology and to the eagerness and alert intelligence shown by Kyram.

According to Charlane the big challenge now is to encourage Kyram to express his thoughts more than just answer questions and this means: “watch him very closely, and connect with him so you know what questions to ask, and what choices to give, etc.”  “Frequently, Kyram becomes frustrated with us because he wants to do, or not do, something, and we just don’t get it.”

Kyram  spelling the name “Jesus” on his communication computer. Source: theauthor.

Here is an amazing account from Charlane of a recent interaction with Kyram around 1 John 3:16 (“This is how we know what love is…”)

One of the more difficult tasks we are pursuing is spelling with his eye tracker keyboard. All 26 letters of the alphabet, in the same configuration as his “pencil,” appear on the eye tracker screen, so you can imagine that the “targets” are fairly small. Even with calibration to give him the best chance of hitting the targets, spelling on the eye tracker is not easy…

On Monday, after reviewing his favourite Bible verse, 1 John 3:16 (I think he likes it because the children in the video sign it, so we sign along with them), I began spelling the verse on his eye tracker. As usual, he arbitrarily “inserted” a few different letters, but I changed my tactics and asked him if he could “hit” the correct letters, as I named them. He responded by doing just that! Because he knows the verse, he even spelled two of the words, “love” and “us,” without prompting and completely independently! 

Peter Monty, SJ is Chaplain for the Deaf in Ottawa.

  • Ted Steven
    Posted at 01:48h, 24 January Reply


  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 02:39h, 24 January Reply

    Thank you Peter!

  • Beverley Ares
    Posted at 05:46h, 24 January Reply

    Well, this is a beautiful story about a dear (Dear) young man.
    I was struck by his fortitude and amazed at his ability to use
    God’s love to touch those who care for him.
    I have worked with the Deaf community at the school for the
    Deaf in St. John’s for 22 years and now volunteer with the Deaf
    Community with bible study. I too have touched, or hugged
    by Deaf people. God uses us in remarkable ways. Messages of
    Love are sent and received through signs. How wonderful!

  • John Montague
    Posted at 08:31h, 24 January Reply

    From 1974 until 1984 I worked with children with cerebral palsy, and they taught me a life long lesson about what it means to be human and about love.

  • Marianne Ostermann
    Posted at 08:32h, 24 January Reply

    We are so blessed…thank you Lord for all that we take for granted…Marianne

  • Evan Thomas Stephen Kaner
    Posted at 09:12h, 24 January Reply

    very interesting , i am very derived off of english literacy & arts – & i have been diagnosed with terrets syndrome about 13 years ago ! i also do consistent eye-blinking & tongue clicking ! i find my self blinking or clicking my tongue to the rhythm of songs i have in my head ! Amazing story ! i am glad to have read 😀

  • Maureen Cerroni
    Posted at 11:27h, 24 January Reply

    Thank you Fr Monty for sharing this remarkable story. Kyram is truly inspiring. He is wise beyond his years as he knows the source of his inspiration so very well. It is revealed in his 2 key words: “love” and “us” (God and community).

  • Robert Czerny
    Posted at 23:11h, 24 January Reply

    Peter, your warmth and commitment to the deaf community are truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.

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