Friday, November 20, 2009

Speak softly

You know one thing I know about C is that he is always listening ... we went back to my mother’s house and he told me all the time when he was 3 and I was reading him a book .. What that book was .. what the story was..The funny thing is I remembered that day clearly as well .. I was just thinking in despair how he was sitting there just like a lump on a log”

One of my friends is giving me this great advice- we have met for lunch at Romano’s. This is a year ago

She is a friend I met at a local Autism support group and we just hit it off. Of course since we both are working moms with kids with special needs – we have basically met once in the past two years.( though of course we keep wondering why we don’t meet more often – I seem to have such a plethora of wonderful people in my life that I cannot find the time to really connect with – I suppose its better than the opposite alternative )

I made a mental note of this very good advice.

Many adult auties have expressed this same wish.

They have talked about how much it bothered them that their parents spoke about them – and their worries about them – in front of them.

Unfortunately I seem to be one of those people destined to learn from my own mistakes – rather than learning from others

As R’s receptive language was a long time in coming I thought that this must not be true for him!

Then a few months ago I taped a therapy session.

When I was going through the recording (by profession I am a researcher )- I automatically switched into researcher mode and started paying attention not only to his enunciation – but to his body language

Heart sinking – I realized that he his entire body language would change – each time I said something bad – expressed some worry

When I said something good – he would perk up and would be able to say the next thing better.

With remorse I thought back to all the times when I discussed him - in front of him

Slowly I am coming to realize that even in the situations where he is CLEARLY doing something else – he is STILL paying attention when anything relevant to him comes up( the way we are able to pick out our name in the airport in the din of announcements- but filter everything else out)

Yesterday as we were out in the front yard – and Mrs C and J stopped by to chat- R ran away to explore whether the red berries in the bush were skittles or not.

Mrs C asked if R was liking the Fall leaves .

I replied that his Dad has made a pile of leaves at the end of our backyard

R swung into action – picked up DH’s rake and jumped into the pile

The other day when a friend gave him a dinosaur which he ignored – I saw him a minute later – researching dinosaurs on the internet!

Now that I am paying attention - I notice how much attention he is paying

Hopefully some mum or dad is reading this and making a note to be careful of the worry they express in front of their children.

Words can wound deeply and our children are so sensitive

It really is best to presume intellect and to presume comprehension.

And to speak softly because someone is listening


Laura said...

Wise advice from a wise mama. And I'm bad when it comes to this issue. And my husband is even worse.

Anonymous said...

So very, very true. I remember well something I read from the book Strange Son, "The amazing thing about Dov is that he didn’t begin to communicate until he was nine years old, and it was only then that we discovered a boy we had not known before. A smart, caring, wonderful boy who, when we asked him what he had been doing all those years, simply spelled out: “listening”.”

Thanks for the important reminder.

TJ said...

I know this, I believe it with all my heart, yet I still forget. Now that my C has more language, it's almost just as easy to slip into forgetting as it was when he had none, because I forget that while he can express many things, he does not (yet?) have the ability to express how my words about him feel.

I don't generally talk negatively about him, but I do discuss his challenges with others when he's within earshot, particularly his fine-motor and coordination delays. I can only pray that because I usually sound matter-of-fact about it, he isn't sensing disappointment.

Also, just this morning as I delivered him to school, the para introduced a new staff member who was along to observe. C responded w/ a "hello" and then "I missed you" which he has over-generalized because people love to hear they've been missed and respond so positively to. The para laughed out loud a bit and I reminded C that we save "I miss you" for family and friends that we already know. It would be better to say "nice to meet you."

He got a big wiggly at this point and the para told him to keep his backpack on because it was time to go to Mrs. T's class (the reg ed class). He started wiggling his backpack off, which puzzled us at first, and then he said something to the effect of "I don't have a hanger in there!" No one else understood what he meant, but I quickly realized that he was saying that there was no hook for his backpack in her room. The child has been going to her room every morning for 2 months or so, and I'm sure no one thought he'd notice the difference. He did.

P.S. I have Strange Son sitting on a shelf. I think I will pick it up and start reading it tonight.

Territory Mom said...

I love this. You really hit home, again. Thank you. I will "speak softly today". Thank you again. said...

thanks for the reminder, I think that all parents are guilty of this to some degree, the taping his session was agreat idea.

Lisa said...

Very well said K, and so very true.

Love the leaf picture of R, he is so darn cute and sweet.


Anonymous said...

Yes. I have noticed the same which is why I wondered about having "the talk" if that would make things worse or not. I hope Daniel never feels like I feel something is wrong with him. I often feel frustrated that the doctor and his therapists talk about things in front of him. I think that overall we're positive, but I know he's taking it all in. (During a conversation about the exact same thing with his former OT, Daniel, who was busy drawing or something at the table said "blah, blah, blah" under his breath) lol!

I love how you said it though- to speak softly. It's something I need to remember.

Anonymous said...

My heart sank when I read this. Thinking of how often I do this. How often we do this. It is good advice and it is very true. Thank you for reminding me to be more contentious of this!

JoyMama said...

Oh, oh, oh. I do *so much* of this. And I'm not even quite sure how I'd go about changing... I'm thinking of how I get information from all the folks who are coming to work with my daughter in our home (she's doing intensive therapy) -- what they write in their data-taking notes doesn't usefully summarize the overall "how did things go" -- but it's not safe to leave my kiddo alone in a room to step out and have the "how did things go" conversation out of her hearing.

I've been thinking about this, though. I need to think more, and do more.

robin said...

Such very good advice...I love hearing R stories. That picture is lovely! It's also amazing how each of you can remember an event in time such as reading the book that seemed trivial at the time, but obviously memorable.

Stephanie said...

this is something i really need to remember more. thank you for the reminder.

All About the Bailey's said...

K, you are so right in this post, we have had this conversation over and over again this year. It is so hard to not talk of the kids in front of them, I think because we are constantly trying to teach others, and not meaning to be negative just explaning details about our kids and why they do the things they do...great post! Oh and here's a

Funny story:
Ethan accidently sees a video of a person carving a pumpkin with a very large knife, it was a cute funny adult video but he also enjoyed it...because the pumpkins actually he watched it his Grandmother had said he should not watch things like this, so I turn to her and say "Mother, if Ethan went to the kitchen, opened a drawer and got a knife and even showed any kind of interest in carving a pumpkin then I would be the happiest Mom.
10 minutes later Ethan goes to the kitchen opens the drawer and grabs two of the largest knives he could find and is standing there looking at I believe with all my heart they know and understand so much more than anyone gives them credit for.
PS I had to put away the knives for about a week so I could talk to him about not playing with

Trish said...

This is so true. I have thought about this often, but it is still so easy to slip into talking about Michael with other adults in the room when he is there.

Thank you for the reminder. We all need it!

danette said...

Excellent advice... I admit I am guilty of that too :(. We know our boys are paying attention even when they don't seem to be. We are also discovering that they have pretty good hearing and pick things up even when we think we are out of earshot (oops). This was a good reminder, thank you.

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