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15
Mar16

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 Human Rights of the so called “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 think coming!

 

Stop talking and pay attention to ME!
I am so not eating that.

 

Come here…

 

Too Loud!

 

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)

 

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

 

 

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″ ?

Because 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.

The very first thing we must teach, is How to Say What they Want.

xx


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