I remember a time in the not-so-distant past when I wondered to myself when or if I would hear my youngest child speak in sentences. If I’d ever hear the soft “I love you, mommy” or have a conversation in spoken words with him.
It took me a great deal of time and effort (and study) to come to the realization that communication can happen in many forms, and that you can never truly know what the future may hold. As it turned out, he would speak, and there are days now where I wonder if I’ll ever enjoy silence again…
Part of communication is advocating for one’s needs. We’ve become quite accustomed to the ways in which he advocates, and today provided a perfect example.
He walked across the living room today while the room was mostly silent. He grabbed his headphones, a pair of black and white noise-muffling over-the-ear headphones which do a fairly nice job of reducing nose levels in a room. In this case, the room was already pretty quiet, so I’m going to assume that he was seeking the gentle squeeze, the proprioceptive input that the headphones also provide (his first method of advocating for what he wants and needs).
The headphones have a panda face on each ear, and are just so sweet that I asked him if I might take a photo. “No”. “No?” “No.” And that, my dears, is that. No. He did not wish his photo to be taken. (his second advocacy)
He then asked for a snack, and guided me through exactly what he wished for. This isn’t so much advocating as requesting, but you could count this as well.
It takes being truly comfortable with your space and who it contains to be able to do what he did, and I am forever grateful for the fact that he knows without a single doubt that his voice will always be heard, his communications will always be taken into account, and his requests always considered.
Yesterday, I took both boys to their first dance class- a movement class for kids with special abilities. I was so excited that he wanted to try it out, and they had a wonderful time. We saw a girl who had been in Wonder Boy’s preschool and it was remarkable to see how much she’d accomplished since those days.
When we were getting ready to leave, WB said that he did not want to sign up to return. While I was saddened by that, I also have to respect that he made his wishes quite clear to us.
We must always consider people’s needs, no matter how they communicate but especially those who are not able to communicate verbally- look for other ways in which someone is speaking to you, whether that be in actions or in response to your actions. Take time to meet people where they are, rather than force your methodology and your ideology on them. And for the love of pete, respect people.