Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Language Matters II

As Joey learned to talk, my husband decided to teach him to say "let go, please" when he was done with being hugged. We would catch him, hug him tight, and then just hold on until he said (usually through his giggles), "Let go, please!"

Now he uses this phrase whenever he is done playing with us, and is ready to move on. Andy does, too. And we always let go, even if we aren't really done hugging yet (is one ever done hugging a boy?)

The purpose of this exercise was multi-fold. It provided Joey with words to end a situation and control his environment. It encouraged him to talk and use words. It provided the lesson that words have meaning. Words are tools, and used correctly, have results.

In some ways, self-advocates are just now starting to garner words and expect results. This is partly a "Horton Hears A Who" effect- you need enough people using words at once for people to hear you. And it is partly because improvements in interventions, supports, and communication skills among persons with disabilities- particularly communication disorders- is improving at a rate that many new voices are being added to the chorus.

It is a sad comment on society that people are not protected unless they yell loud enough to be heard. But there it is. We add our voices to the cry: "We are all unique! We are all human! We all have rights!"

That is really what the din over Tropic Thunder is all about. A tip over the top of the volume to, "Being mean is not funny!"


Miss Kitty said...

Language does indeed matter...ohh, so much more than many of us realize. Kids pick up on so much, and I bet they pick it up much more intensely if they're autistic.

You've given me a post idea--thanks. Love your stories; keep on telling the world about Joey and your family's experience.

bobbie said...

Language matters a great deal.
and "Let go, please" is a very valuable phrase for your children to be able to use. It may be an excellent choice for all of us at times.