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17
Jun11

What Do You Mean Non-Verbal? We Are Already Communicating!

If there is one thing that really annoys me it is when people who do not speak in audible words are not being listened to. And by that I mean that the needs, interests and rights of the “non-verbal” are being overlooked.

That’s why I feel passionate about creating a simple means of communication that incorporates independent choice which can be universally understood. Because it is much harder to discriminate against someone who has the ability to tell tales.

It is why I feel so passionate about getting the parents, teachers, tutors, supervisors, therapists and carers of these people to enable them to access this means.You see, these kids (and young adults) are all actively communicating and shaping our behaviour in order to meet their needs right now. How do they do it?

See if you can guess what these kids are really saying:

Can I go home now?

If you think I'm going in that you've got another thing coming.If you think I’m going in that you’ve got another thing coming!

Stop talking and pay attention to ME!Stop talking and pay attention to ME!

I am so not eating that.I am so not eating that.

Come here...Come here…

Too Loud!Too Loud!

I'm sure I can reach that very interesting thing up here. Maybe if I just stood on this pot...I’m sure I can reach that very interesting thing up here. Maybe if I just stood on this pot…

Get off the phone Mummy and come and spend some more time with me. (with you cleaning up this whole jar of expensive face cream)Get off the phone Mummy and come and spend some more time with me. (with you cleaning up this whole jar of expensive face cream)

You call that a door latch? Let me show you what I think of your locked door...You call that a door latch? Let me show you what I think of your locked door…

Leave me alone.Leave me alone.

These photographs were sent to me by good friends of small children. In each case it was possible to catch and hold or physically re-direct the child to a better way of getting their needs. But what happens when they are too big to hold? How do you teach a young adult an appropriate way to say “You are talking too much and I’d like to leave now” when they are 13 and 5′ 5″ ?

Liam and LisaBecause at the moment when Charlie pulls her Gran’s hair to get her to stop talking, it is kind of cute. But if Charlie was 23 and that was the only way she knew to get someone to help her find a quiet space, people might be a lot less understanding.

Adults with intellectual impairment or communication disabilities will often end up medicated and in residential care because they had no appropriate way of getting people to listen to what they need and want. The hair pulling, the dragging, the running away or the self-harm  really got people’s attention quickly. And without anyone dedicated to teaching them to communicate by alternative means – disruptive, aggressive and distressing behaviours are their only way to be heard.

Make a commitment to learning what your child is really saying and give them the power to say it another way.

These photos are going to be used in a forthcoming Grace App Video – If you would like to be part of this project please send your photos- together with your permission for me to share them to Graceappforautism@gmail.com

I will also share them here on the blog. Funniest caption wins a Free Code for Grace App!


7 responses to “What Do You Mean Non-Verbal? We Are Already Communicating!”

  1. Casdok says:

    Love this. Very visual – a great way to illustrate such an important point.

  2. Lauri@ollibean says:

    Exactly! Henry communicates..I hate saying "non-verbal" because it is so inacurrate!

  3. Looking for Blue Sky says:

    Very powerful, especially after the TV programmes we've all seen over the past couple of weeks.

  4. Grace App says:

    @Cas – I'd be honoured if you felt like sharing a picture of C telling the world what he thinks. xx

    Hi Lauri! We just have to listen better.

    @Candi – I know. xx

  5. jazzygal says:

    What Blue Sky says. Really hits home. Well done on linking up all these important issues.

    xx Jazzy

  6. Valerie says:

    Hi Lisa, I have three children on the spectrum but my son is the most effected, he’s 11. I totally and deeply agree with what you are stating in your above blog. My son says a few words now, thanks to Picture Exchanging with his communication book. What really upsets me is that he was put on medication for one year because the main stream school (in Malta) he was attending couldn’t get it through their heads that my son’s behavior is his way to communicate. Thank God he has been taken off his medication as I put him in a school whom understand him more! He is so happy now and looks forward to going to school. I saw your app and am very impressed! Well done, you remind me of myself, very dedicated, persistent and will try my utmost to show their true potential! I love them so much, autism and all!

    • Lisa says:

      Valerie, so delighted to hear from you and learn about your love, persistence and dedication. I don’t doubt that you are your child’s best advocate. WE can all learn from the professionals but they have to respect us in return. Good luck xx

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