Making Friends:

Tyler Young of Corvallis, Oregon

By Jana Larsen

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    With three seconds left in the game, the Cougars are down by two, and Tyler Young has the ball. He shoots a three pointer from midcourt—and it’s good! BYU wins by one point! Tyler Young brings his team to another stunning victory.

    The alarm went off, and Tyler (7) rolled over to see if Jason (12), was awake. Boy, what I’d give to be like him! thought Tyler. Jason plays great football and is one of the fastest runners in the seventh grade. He even passes the sacrament with no trouble.

    “I’m going to do it,” Tyler said out loud.

    “Going to do what, little brother?” Jason asked.

    “Play basketball for Brigham Young University.”

    “Aren’t you a little young for them, Ty?” Jason smiled. “Besides, you have to learn to walk before you learn to play basketball.”

    “Yeah, I know. But I figure if I dream, I might as well dream big. I mean, who’s going to cheer just because I walk to the kitchen?”

    “Mom for one, and me for another. Cerebral palsy isn’t something that you get over in twenty-four hours like the flu, Ty.”

    “I know,” sighed Tyler. He rolled out of bed onto the floor. “I’m starved. Race you to the kitchen!”

    Tyler scrabbled on his hands and knees down the hallway to the kitchen, where his mom and his sister Cherie were. His mom was busy making breakfast. Cherie (16) was looking for the car keys to go to seminary.

    “How’s my tiger this morning?” Tyler’s mom asked as Cherie helped him into his chair. “Ready for something to eat? The people will be here soon.”

    “Oh, Mom, I’m so tired of patterning. Can’t they just stay home today?”

    Every day, for two hours, volunteers from the community help Tyler learn to use his body. In a special program called patterning, which teaches Tyler’s healthy brain cells how to control his body, they simultaneously move Tyler’s arms, legs, and head while he lies on his stomach on a table. Then they toss him up and down on a sheet to help him develop his sense of balance. Finally, he does something called masking, by breathing into a mask to help him take in more oxygen.

    Tyler has been doing patterning for five months, and already he can hold his head up straight when he sits in a chair. He can also bend his knees enough to crawl around the house. But to him, his progress is too slow. He thinks that he should be walking by now.

    “Patience, Tyler,” said Mom. “In order for you to walk, you must do this every day. It isn’t much fun for you, but just think how grateful you’ll be when it’s over and you can play ball with Jason.”

    Tyler heard the people come in downstairs just as he finished the last bite of his breakfast. Mom picked him up, kissed his cheek, then put him on the floor so that he could crawl down the stairs to meet them.

    The next two hours went by quickly, and Tyler decided that it wasn’t so bad once he got into it. After the people left, Tyler’s mom carried him upstairs for lunch.

    After lunch Tyler crawled into the living room and leaned against the couch while Mom set out his flash cards and got everything ready for his lessons. Because Tyler has to pattern every day, it isn’t possible for him to go to the local school. Instead, Mom teaches him at home. Once in a while, though, he gets to go to school to see some of his friends. Tyler hopes to be able to go to school with them next year.

    Tyler worked hard on his lessons for most of the afternoon. Afterward, he and Mom sat on the floor, talking.

    “Mom, I need to earn forty cents so I can get my CTR ring next Sunday,” Tyler said. “Do you have any ideas on what I can do?”

    “I tell you what Tyler, if you help me with the laundry and the dishes this week, I’ll pay you the forty cents you need. Deal?”

    “Deal!” Tyler said, crawling to the kitchen.

    Later in the evening, everyone in Tyler’s family, except Gena, who was away at college, gathered in the living room.

    “Whose turn is it to read from the Book of Mormon tonight?” asked Dad.

    Mom said, “We left off with Cherie reading from Mosiah last night. How about if Tyler starts tonight?”

    Everyone took a turn reading, with Jason reading last. “The scriptures show what can be accomplished when you have the Lord’s help,” he said. “I mean, look at Tyler. He’s come a long way toward learning to walk, and he couldn’t have done it all by himself.”

    Tyler smiled at Jason. “I’m glad I have the help of so many others.”

    After Teri (9), one of Tyler’s other sisters, had said the prayer, Tyler hugged everyone, then Jason carried him to their room. “You’re doing great, little brother. And don’t worry—you’ll be playing ball before you know it.”

    “Thanks. I just hope it’s soon.” Mom came, helped Tyler change into his pajamas, and kissed him good night. He soon drifted off to sleep.

    It’s the start of the second half, BYU leads by two, and Tyler Young has the ball …

    Photographed by Jana Larsen

    Tyler goes downstairs to greet people who have come to help him.

    Stake members help Tyler pattern.

    Tyler gives Cherie a kiss.

    Tyler looks forward to playing with Teri and Jason when they come home from school.

    Masking helps Tyler learn to breath more deeply.