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Communication skills

Posted Oct 22 2008 9:41pm

It is just as I hear the garage door close with spouse’s departure that I realize that I am in a pickle. My son, even in the morning is technically non verbal. After jaw surgery, I am effectively non verbal also. The cleaners are coming. Senior son is home with me as his asthma is too severe to go to school. I debate how to explain this to the cleaners, that there will be two bodies skulling around the place getting in their way? I have no-one to interpret for me. I consider waving my wipe board at them, but my Spanish speaking is of ‘Dora the Explorer’ standard and I certainly couldn’t write anything in Spanish. I mutter mentally, moaning and complaining, what am I going to do? I have 45 minutes to come up with a plan.

I don’t know how much spouse explained about my condition to them during the previous fortnight? [translation = two weeks of recouperation] I run a finger tip check over my mouth and count the pins and needles per square centimeter; no chance. We snuggle on the sofa whilst my sluggish brain begins to plot. I start scheduling with my son. I write a list of our days ‘events’ to pre-empt repeated questions along the lines of ‘what we do next?’ at 35 second intervals throughout the day. I am lazy and befuddled. I write rather than be imaginative and use icons.

At three he could read. Somewhere between that time and now, when he is seven and a half, he has mislaid that skill. Therefore, this is not my hyperlexic one, this is my ‘I never read anything under any circumstances unless you put hot coals to the soles of my feet’ one. I tap the board to save speaking and catch his attention. He reads aloud. He reads aloud perfectly. His eyes flick between my eyes and the board. I write another sentence and we repeat the exercise inbetween his coughs and my dribbles. We appear to be in agreement. I know this, not because he verbally agrees, but because we both put our hands in a thumbs up gesture and make eye contact. He reads additional sentences and we make the same gestures; four points of acquiescence.

I cannot fathom if this really is a complex social situation or whether I am making mountains out of molehills?

When the door bell rings he scampers out to the hall where Maria and her team appear with copious cleaning equipment. I am a few steps behind. As I approach, I hear my son talk to her on his own volition: “I am ill, so I am home. Mum is ill. Er, mum is more iller dan me. We are bowf home together but we will be good.” Maria blinks. She has known my son since he was 18 months old. I doubt if she has ever been honoured with as many words in as many years. My puff ball face smiles at her. She shakes her head slowly and runs a hand over his silky hair.

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