A lot has been said and written about the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication. Various studies have shown that the two go hand in hand in conveying a message. Well, I can state that I’m living proof that you don’t necessarily need spoken language to convey a message.
Since birth I haven’t spoken a single word. Yet I’m able to convey my message to the rest of the world. True, not everyone understands my messages as clearly but my parents and relatives do and that’s what matters most. My cognitive development is lagging behind and therefore I haven’t mastered the art of speech yet. But I am able to make it very clear to my parents when I’m hungry, thirsty, in need of new diaper or when I’m bored and want to play.
Due to my intellectual disability I’m not able to learn sign language yet but I’ve kind of developed my own system of communicating with the world around me. When I’m hungry or thirsty I’ll bring both my hands to my mouth and will move them over my lips while producing a “wah wah wah” sound. That way, my parents know I am hungry or thirsty. They also keep a bottle of juice nearby everywhere we go. That way I can take the bottle to show them I’m thirsty. As I can’t physically open the bottle (it has a sports bottle cap), my parents then open the bottle so that I can drink.
When I’m tired and want to go to bed I’ll bring my hands to the back of my ears and will move them back and forward from behind my ears to my eyes and back. My parents will then ask my if I want to go to bed and I’ll take both their hands then and will bring them under my armpits showing them that I want them to pick me up and bring me to bed.
If my toys aren’t switched on I’ll put the toy between my legs and will crawl to the nearest person with my toy. I’ll take the toy and will raise it towards that person showing them they need to turn it on. I’ll make short and direct sounds again while doing this to ensure my message is understood.
Last summer, while we were on holiday in Spain, I was stung by a wasp. It hurt and I cried really loud because of the pain. My parents knew there was something wrong but they did not know what. As I wasn’t able to tell them and I wasn’t able to show them where exactly I was hurting, they started examining me from head to toes. As they hadn’t seen anything other than me playing and then all of sudden me crying loudly, they realized that a sting was the most likely cause. A wasp had crawled under the leg strap of my diaper and had stung me in my thigh. Luckily the stinger didn’t stay in and my parents were able to locate the place as it was red and slightly swollen. They quickly relieved the pain with a cold compress and a bug-bite anesthetic.
This example just to show that not being able to speak, does have huge disadvantages and my folks have to be on their toes at times like this. But for the past 13 years we managed to get by just fine.
Whether or not I’ll ever be able to speak or do sign language is a difficult question. It’s hard to make predictions but I realize that when I have something important to say, I’ll be able to convey my message, one way or the other.
The thing is that I’ll always be able to show my emotions and that is what is most important. Beside being able to convey my most basic needs like food, drink and sleep, you can always tell whether I’m happy or sad and isn’t that what’s most important?
A smile on my face is worth more than a 1000 words expressing how I feel, don’t you agree?
Hope you enjoyed this weeks blog and have a great week!