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Communicate

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Mmm easier said than done.

So how do you communicate? Social media in its myriad forms? email? text? voice? eyes? hands? The ways are seemingly endless, unless of course communication for you is a part of your disability.

I am privileged to work with young people who have communication disorders and I am in constant amazement and have so much respect for the ways in which they work out some way of letting us know what they want. It is an ever moveable feast as they acquire words and signs only to lose these during periods of transition, say, or a growth spurt.

One young man who has an emotional and learning capacity of a two year old has developed his own form of communication. ‘Bye’ means both ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’. He will blow kisses at those he likes and trusts from his teacher and support staff and wider school staff to the pupils who join us for lunch or some chill – out time in our room. He will say ‘Hug’ and this is a clear  indication that he is happy to be in someone’s company. When we took a group to Winter Wonderland he literally jumped up and down and squealed with delight when we saw a squirrel in Princes St. Gardens. We know he loves animals and he was letting us share his joy.

He is teaching me so much about how I communicate with others. I have learned to slow down my own speech and think before I talk (most of the time!) I am better at listening and smile more frequently while offering encouraging facial expressions and open body language. I am becoming more confident at using Signalong and we are developing our own methods of language and signing to fit in with his ability to understand.

I had a potentially difficult conversation with a colleague recently but I thought about how I am able to strike the right chord for our pupils and always with a smiley face, so I put this into practice. My colleague’s posture changed from attack to conciliatory, not because of the words I used, but the smiles, hand on heart gestures and positivity that flowed out from me. I hope we can continue to collaborate in that way.

Communication – a poem

your letter arrived in the post

I know not what to say

the words you used have hurt me most

I know not what to say.

I will not text or write or call

I know not what to say

you are not able to recall

I know not what to say.

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