Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nonverbal Communication

I remember a young toddler in our student ward that had one form of communication. Screaming. I also remember talking to the mom and telling her what I had learned in some of my child development classes. Supposedly, you can teach a screaming toddler to talk or at least sign.

Lesson learned. I will never share textbook answers with anyone without real life experience as back up.

Devin is just like the kid in our BYU ward. He screams at times. He cries. He communicates--but not with words. And I try to teach him to sign. The problem is I know what he wants and he knows that I know. So he isn't motivated to sign or talk because he already communicates. Nonverbally.

Following me around the house and whining: "I'm thirsty."  Normally giving him the sippy cup is enough to calm him.

Following me around the house and crying: "I'm really thirsty. I only want milk. (Mommy's milk)."  By this point, I try to stop what I'm doing and go nurse him.

Following me around the house and screaming: "I'm dying of thirst. I want my milk NOW!"  I can't nurse him fast enough at this point. And this normally comes with him biting me because he is mad at me I guess or just so worked up that he forgets how to be gentle.

Hitting his high chair tray with his hand open: "I'm still hungry. More please."  He won't sign more. But he hits the tray at least.

Turning his head constantly when I try to feed him: "I want to do it myself."  So I give him some finger food and then after he feeds himself, he will eat what I'm trying to feed him. Or I give him a spoon and then he thinks he is feeding himself because he puts the spoon in and out of his mouth.

Turning his head and then whimpering when sitting in the high chair: "I'm thirsty. I want water."  Sippy cup it is.

Laying his head down on the high chair tray: "I'm done."  or sometimes "I just want a break then I will eat more later."

Laying his head down on the floor when he was crawling and crying: "I'm tired. I want to go to sleep in my bed."  Generally, he won't fall asleep on the floor. Instead he cries until I move him to his bed.

Coming up to me when I'm sitting then walking and hiding by the loveseat: "I want to play chase/ hide and seek."  We have a racetrack floor layout in our apartment. Devin likes to go around and around and have us follow. Or sometimes he will follow instead. Normally this is something Casey plays with him because it hurts my knees.

Standing on his tippy toes and reaching next to ____________: "I want whatever to play with whatever is off limits."  For example, if he does this on the couch, it means he wants to play with the remotes. He knows they are there if we are watching a movie, even if the remotes are completely out of sight. He also does this at the kitchen table to reach for plates of food (like right before we sit down to eat and I'm trying to get everything ready) or the mail or etc.

Knocking (or rather banging) on a closed door: "I know you're in there. I want to be with you." Sometimes I have no idea how he knows where I'm at because he will be occupied with a toy but the next thing I know, he is banging on the door. He is not allowed in any of the bedrooms or bathroom. If I'm taking awhile behind the closed door (like putting away clothes or showering) he will sit just outside the door and wait for me. If it is a really long time, he will go get a toy then comes back.


Brown-Eyed Girl said...

Oh dear. That does sound like quite the problem. I usually don't offer advise, because let's be honest, we all know what we're doing with our own children even if it's not working, but you could, perhaps anticipate what he's going to want next and beat him to punch and sign away as you go.

Offer him his milk cup and sign 'milk' or as soon as he's in the highchair sign 'eat'. Practice saying 'more' each time you give him a bite so that there's lots of repetition.

We started with please and said it all the time. Once Alaska signed it three times we counted it as 'knowing' and then she never got anything until she signed that. If she said please she got it, no ifs and buts. After 2 weeks of that I told her 'no' if it were something like the remotes. There were a few tantrums but they're slow in coming now, she knows if I am ok with her having it, she will get it. If not, then no, she's not getting it. Stay as firm as you did with those students of yours. You can do this. He's not going to love you any less for having expectations.

I know all kiddos are different, but a crying child is always frustrating. You are such a great and loving momma, I know you'll be able to figure something out.

Brown-Eyed Girl said...

No, actually, you don't need advice. What was I thinking, lol, disregard all that. I don't want to tell you what to do. I just want to tell you that you are doing great. Your working on the sign language and Devin will use it when he's ready. They all have their own little personalities and their own timing and when he's ready, he'll let you know and we'll all be so excited!

You are doing great. He knows how to communicate his needs to you and trusts that you will fill them. That is most important of all, over the how, is the fact that he does.

Keep smiling and trying to understand his little mind.