Saturday, September 3, 2011

Receive, Process, Send Feedback

I have gone through phases of understanding JD's speech challenges.

When he was first diagnosed with a, "Speech Delay," and they said that he was one age group behind, we would do some therapy, he would get caught up, and all would be good.

That was three years ago.

About a year ago, I realized that this was not something like a cold or the flu. It's not something that we can cure or heal. It could be something that is a lifelong challenge or something that he grows to live with, and possibly quite productively.

Once in a while, I will talk to a friend and mention JD's speech delay. The response is usually, "What do you mean? He talks just fine."

Wife and I know from being around him regularly that his speech is not like other kids his age, or at least not like the more articulate kids. This has lead me to redefine his challenge.

Communication. It is not saying the words that is difficult. It is the process of sending and receiving information. If Wife asks him, "What did you do at the park today?" he is challenged to think back to the time we were at the park. He simply cannot think about the park, pick out a few highlights or the funny thing that happened, and relate it to her or anyone else. "What's your favorite food?" "What's your favorite dinosaur?" These are questions that he simply cannot process. If he is asked a yes or no question that is false, like, "Did you play hockey at the park?" he may say, "Yes," when he hadn't.

For me, putting some kind of definition or label helps me because I can put the issue into persepective. It's like using technical or conceptual terms in conversation - it eliminates or reduces subjectivity.

So now, if I tell someone that he has a speech delay and they reply that he sounds fine, I can briefly define it more accurately as difficulty with his overall communication skills.

Having defined it like that has also helped me communicate better with him. Alleviating frustration makes a happy household. So do chocolate chip cookies.

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