Thursday, April 8, 2010

Communication: Words aren't everything

Adrienne is a girl with a passion for communication. When she has a point to make, she likes to make it loud and clear. She has a vocabulary of about 50 words, but she has not quite ventured into stringing any of those words together to make sentences, and because of that, the spoken word is not always her primary method of communication. But don't let that fool you into thinking she can't deliver a message, because let me tell you, she can.

I witnessed a prime example of this communication prowess a few days ago. I had dropped by my mom's house one afternoon so that Marianna could begin making her "egg museum" with my sister, Breanna. (For those who are curious, an egg museum consists of plastic easter eggs that have been decorated with googly eyes, easter grass for hair, and lots of marker for all other adornment). Breanna and my mom weren't home, but Andrew, my 14 year old brother, was. While I was doing something in another part of the house, Adrienne settled in with Andrew on the couch. After a few minutes, I came in to collect her and said, "Adrienne, come on. It's time to go."

She looked back at me, eyes narrowed with determination, and said, "No. Andoo." in her most emphatic voice. One second later, her disposition changed into one of airy cheerfulness, as she looked at me and smiled, lifted her hand to wave and proclaimed, "Bye, bye! Bye, bye!" She then turned around, scooted closer to Andrew, and pretended as if I was no longer there. Point made. I was being dismissed, and she was spending the afternoon with Andrew and his bag of pretzels. This routine was repeated a second time, and maybe even a third, getting more dramatic with each rendition. Andrew and I were rolling with laughter by the time I reached down and grabbed the little goose, who smiled before giving in and telling Andrew, "Bye, bye."

You can gather from this that Adrienne has already learned one of the fundamental keys of self-expression: words are only a small part of the pie where communication is concerned. Tone of voice, body language, and eye contact are the things of which she has mastered, making her one of the finest limited-verbal commuincators I have ever seen. She is proficient at order giving, using the word "sit" along with her military-grade sterness, a dramatically pointed finger, and an eyebrows drawn together look, to add weight to the single word order. She is the best at letting people know they are loved, knowing that big smiles, bigger hugs, and shouts of "yay!" mean just as much as "I love you." She tells us what she wants to do, what she wants to eat, where she wants to go, and what she wants us doing while she is doing those things, and she does so with less words than you would think possible.

Of course her vocabulary will increase and she will start using more and more words in her messages, and from what I've seen so far, those words will just help her increase her natural talent. She is a girl who likes to be heard, and being a kindred spirt, I can understand.


Trennia said...

aww that is sweet!

Kenzie said...

Wow, we are JUST entering this realm with Faith Clare. Her vocab is very limited right now but all of the others are very clear- tone, body language, facial expressions...and of course the screaming doesn't hurt either. Man, some days I want to scream myself but she sure is a joy to watch :) Hoping to see those girls one day soon! Love you.