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Words

October 8, 2013

“I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings.” -from the Fox-”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Two steps forward and one back, right? All summer she was signing – not a lot, but more consistently. All summer she was using her iPad like it was easy – second nature. She was communicating with us. Perhaps not in the traditional spoken English way, but she was able to answer questions and tell us what she wanted. It was awesome. My kid could ask me for a glass of milk when she was thirsty. Or tell her therapist she wanted a break and that she wanted to go outside on her swing. I was thrilled, and it was even more perfect watching her smile when she got just what she wanted because she knew she had a way to make us understand.

Then school started. And then she got a cold. And then the old fatigue rolled in. And now, it’s gone. She’s not signing anymore. She’s banging haphazardly on the iPad and not making any consistent choices. And I am scrambling, trying to come up with something, some way for her to tell us what she wants. At home, she goes to the table or the kitchen when she is hungry, she gets up and walks away when she wants a break. She cuddles when she wants a hug. She is able to communicate with us in her own way in her own home. But communicating with others? Telling a teacher the right answer? It’s slipping away. I’ve been down this path with her before. I’ve seen her lose skills before. It’s not usually as dramatic as flipping a switch. It happens just like this. She gets sick, she gets tired and bit by bit the skill slips and slips, in sometimes barely noticeable increments, until it’s gone. I am desperate to believe that that is not what is happening here. That she is just fighting off the same October tiredness that seems to hit everyone this time of year as the days grow darker.

So I sat down and typed out a new communication plan for school. I explained that I am not ready to pull the iPad out of the picture. I am not willing to remove any possibles means of communication. But it does seem like we are focusing on the iPad instead of on the class. I’ve seen her request the iPad in the past when she wanted to tell me something, so I know she can do it. I asked that they leave the iPad to her side instead of right in front of her. That they ask her the questions, and not her and the iPad the questions. And I hope that this plan will reduce some of the stimulation in the classroom. If she is pulling back because she is overwhelmed, then we can make it less overwhelming for her. I hope this works. I hope that this is just an issue of her being overstimulated. But with all the unknowns, all the confusing test results… It’s hard to know what to think.

Being the chatty gal that I am, I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to have something to say and have no way of making the dense grownups around you understand it. She should be able to argue with me. She should be able to tell me that she doesn’t want to play with that toy, she’d rather do this, or that she doesn’t want milk, she actually wants water. She should be able to tell me that Johnny was really funny at school today and that she and Suzie are having so much fun together. She should be able to tell me or anyone else whatever she wants.

More importantly, she has the right to be understood. And if I can’t find a way to make that possible for her, I can’t help but feel that I am letting her down in a very big way.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2013 2:23 pm

    I am blogging and parenting from a different situation (aren’t we all?), but your piece really spoke to me. I think we have to be ready to see progress sometimes seem to diminish for a time, and often for the very reasons you describe (sickness, starting school, just plain getting tired…oh and what I am seeing right now and calling a “birthday time developmental leap”), and retain some hope that the progress (communication or whatever it is) will return and grow again. It’s SO HARD sometimes. Your love and effort and wisdom shine on this page. Thank you.

    • October 9, 2013 3:59 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. Yes it is hard sometimes! But we have to keep trying, so we’r trying some different strategies and hoping we can make some progress. I know se has sooo much to tell us. I just have to find the right method that works for her. Thank you.

  2. October 27, 2013 7:56 pm

    Love The Little Prince!

    • October 27, 2013 11:55 pm

      It’s a classic for a reason. 😉 thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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