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Four Days With Kenny Tedford: Life Through the Eyes of a Child Trapped in a Partially Blind & Deaf Man's Body

Four Days With Kenny Tedford: Life Through the Eyes of a Child Trapped in a Partially Blind & Deaf Man's Body

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Overview

Kenny Tedford is one of only two deaf people in the world with a master’s degree in storytelling, which he earned at 55, almost half a century after being told by teachers and psychologists that he would never complete the third grade. Oxygen deprivation in utero resulted in Kenny being born deaf, partial blindness, partial paralysis on his left side, and an inability to speak clearly until the age of 10. Kenny also suffers cognitive impairment, similar to the fictional character Forrest Gump, which gives him the same child-like innocence and leads to the same sort of hilarious misunderstandings and malaprops that made Gump both lovable and entertaining. Kenny’s life could easily have been nothing but a depressingly sullen tale of victimhood. Instead, it turned out to be one filled with a unique combination of joy, humor, friendship, heartbreak, accomplishment, faith, and peace.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941887028
Publisher: Behler Publications, LLC
Publication date: 11/26/2019
Pages: 330
Sales rank: 818,496
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Master storyteller Kenny Tedford Jr. is a man of many talents: a motivational speaker, actor, comedian, counselor, experienced Deaf ministry leader, and former Executive Director of the Tennessee Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Read an Excerpt

The Magic Crayon

When I was in the second grade I started what they called art therapy. Back then, a psychiatrist came to school once a week to visit some of the kids and look at our drawings. He was supposed to figure out if we were crazy or were gonna stab somebody or something. And that’s how he determined how bad they were with brain damage. I don’t know how you can figure that out from looking at drawings, but that’s what they did anyway.
Well the day I met him, he came in and said, “I’m your psychiatrist.”
I didn’t know what that was, so I said, “What’s a psychiatrist?”
And he said, “We’re gonna see if you’re smart or not.”
“Okay.”
So then he asked me for one of my pictures. Most days my teacher would tell me to draw a picture of what I did the day before. So I showed him a picture I’d drawn of me on a seesaw. He looked at it and asked, “What did you draw?”
I said, “a seesaw.”
“And who’s on the other end?”
“My Mama,” I told him.
“Hmm. Creative. Creative. . . B+.”
And I’m sitting there thinking, “Where did this man get his degree? I mean, he’s gonna tell me I’m smart because I can draw a seesaw”?
Well, anyway, it went on like that for a few days. Then one day he came in, and I drew another picture. This time it was a butterfly. He looked at it and asked me, “What’s that?”
I wondered if he was gonna ask me that every time. I thought psychiatrists were supposed to be smart. I didn’t know how much longer he was gonna be able to keep his job if he didn’t even know what a butterfly was.
Then he said, “Hmmm, not very colorful, or creative.” And he wrote a big ‘D-’ right on my drawing. I rolled up my paper and put it in my backpack.
I kept thinking about that the rest of the day. I wondered if they were right about me. Maybe I’ll never be anything but a retarded boy. I didn’t think so. But those doctors were smart people.
After school was over, I left class and started walking down the hall. One of the other teachers stopped me in the hallway. She got down on her knees to talk to me and said, “What’s wrong, Kenneth? You look so sad.”
I told her, “I can’t even draw! I got a ‘D-’ on my drawing, and that’s the thing I’m best at.”
She asked if she could see it. So I took out my drawing and showed it to her.
She said, “He’s very pretty. But he looks a little sad. Can I see your box of crayons?”
So I pulled out the box and showed her. It was a tiny little box of four crayons, only one of mine was missing. The three colors I had were black, white, and gray.
She said, “Are these the only colors you have, Kenneth?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I was a little embarrassed because I knew the other kids had bigger boxes with more colors. But I’m just the retarded boy in back, so I figured that’s all I deserved.
Then she told me to follow her into her room, and she sat down at her desk. She reached into a drawer and pulled out a huge box of crayons with every color you can imagine, and she gave it to me! Then she found some extra sheets of paper and rolled them up and put them in my backpack.
She got back down on her knees again like she did in the hallway and said things to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “Kenneth, I want to tell you something. You are very creative. When you talk, even at your age, you tell the most amazing stories. You seem to love all the kids, even the ones that make fun of you.”
She even said she thought I was funny. Then she said, “I want you to go home and think about this – that you are important, and you have a gift. And then I want you to draw your butterfly again. Use any colors you want this time. And when you’re done, you think of a story to make your butterfly come to life.” Then she hugged me and sent me on my way.
I wasn’t sure what she meant about the story and making the butterfly come to life. But I did what she said and thought about it. A few days later, I was at the park playing. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by butterflies. Dozens and dozens of butterflies. All over the place. And one of them landed on my hand. And they were beautiful. The one on my hand was bright yellow. It was almost like he was saying to me, “Look, dummy. I’m yellow, not black and white.”
Then a blue one landed on my shirt. And then a red one. And I started thinking about other times I’ve seen butterflies land on people like that. So the next time that psychiatrist came to see me at school I was ready for him! He asked if I had any new drawings to show him. This time I gave him a brand new picture of a butterfly that I made with all my new crayons. It had red and yellow and blue, like the ones I’d seen in the park.
He looked at it and said, “Wow! That’s wonderful, Kenneth. It’s beautiful, it really is. And is that a woman on the back of the butterfly?”
“Yep,” I told him. And I had a big smile on my face because I knew what I was about to say next.
“Well, who is she?”
I told him, “That’s my momma.”
“What’s she doing there?”
And that’s when I said, “She’s there so she can fly around the room here and make sure you give me an A+ this time.”
That was the first time I ever saw that psychiatrist smile. And then he got that look in his eyes like he was maybe gonna cry, but he didn’t. He just said, “What a beautiful story.” Then he took out his red marker and cupped his hand around it so I couldn’t see what he was writing. He scribbled something at the top of my picture. Then he rolled it up gave it back to me. He told me, “Put this in your backpack and don’t look at it till you get home.”
Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to walk all the way home without taking a peek in my backpack. When I got there I ran straight back to my room, pulled out the paper and unrolled it. And there at the top of the page was a giant red A+! I was so happy!
That’s when I learned one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in my life. That I could do things just as good as other kids as long as I had the same opportunities. Give me the same crayons, and I can be a great artist. Give me the same education, and I won’t have to sweep floors my whole life. I can do anything I want.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Meeting Kenny
Chapter 1: “Blue Baby”
Chapter 2: Dealing with Bullies
Chapter 3: The Magical Crayon
Chapter 4: Back of the Bus
Chapter 5: Learning to Talk
Chapter 6: “When I grow up. . .”
Chapter 7: First Love
Chapter 8: The Red Cross
Chapter 9: Going to College
Chapter 10: Angela
Chapter 11: Putting the Pieces Together
Chapter 12: Marty
Chapter 13: Moving On
Chapter 14: Graduation
Chapter 15: Your Own Box of Magic Crayons

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