Thursday, May 10, 2012

On Being Nonverbal

Verbility (yes, I made up that word.  Spellcheck is about to explode, it hates it so much.) is gray.

It's not "yes or "no."  One doesn't suddenly, one day, develop the ability to talk and then graduate to the state of being "verbal."  It's a very gradual process during which there are moments when you seem completely able to express yourself, and words are leaping out of you as if they've finally broken through a wall, and other moments when you are so silent and unresponsive, it's as if you've never spoken one word, and never will. 

Watch it, kitty.  I'll bop you right on the head with my monkey.  I'm not afraid of you.  Much.

Becoming verbal is a frustrating road full of speed bumps, blind crossings, and construction - lots of construction. 

No one explained this to me, back when I was hoping, praying desperately, for just one identifiable word to escape their mouths.  We got a word - "mom" - when they were 4, and I immediately leapt off the nonverbal train to grab onto the verbal one.  Because that's where we were, now.

So I feel guilty being frustrated that I still can't understand a lot of what they say, now at the age of 7.  Especially Zack.  He murmurs things and I try so hard to figure out what he's saying.  Because I'm really his best hope.  I spend the most time with him, I listen to him the most.  Of everyone he knows, I'm probably the most likely to be able to understand him.

So if I want others to understand him, and for him to really, truly, graduate to being considered "verbal" by regular people, I need to work on his clarity.  And I need for him to speak in sentences.  It's not good enough that when he says "mmmahkit," that I understand he wants the Team Umizoomi episode "Trip to the Supermarket."  He needs to be able to say the whole name of the show.

And both boys needs to get over their slight issue with public and nonfamiliar people mutism.  That is, they don't talk much, if at all, around people they don't know well and in unfamiliar places.  It's hard to convince people, like doctors and therapists, that they can actually speak, when nobody but family ever gets to hear it.

Well, we're on the verbal road, I guess, and I'll just have to make sure I have good shock absorbers.

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