Having a child who is mostly nonverbal is a tricky thing.
A parent must rely on other means of communication and use other senses to carefully monitor the child's needs and wants.
My 15-year-old daughter is quite good at using gestures, sign language, technology, and other means to make herself known and understood. She won’t communicate with just anyone, but if someone takes the time to listen, she is sure to “speak.”
Not too long ago, as I entered my daughter’s bedroom, I noticed that her big area rug was half rolled and bunched up in a heap. She sat beside it on the floor. Just as I opened my mouth to ask what in the world had happened, she got my attention with a "humph."
As I turned my gaze toward her, she stared hard into my face, making sure she had my full attention. Then she patted the big heap that was her area rug and pointed dramatically toward her bedroom door and verbalized, “Out!”
“You want your rug out of your room?” I asked incredulously.
She gave me an emphatic, “Yes!”
“But—” I began my argument of reason.
“Out!” she demanded louder.
I shook my head and laughed at her determination. She never ceases to amaze me. I will never know how she managed to get that big old rug rolled up to begin with. And now, she was demanding that it be removed completely?
I quickly got to work getting that heavy rug out of her room. I left her sitting proudly on the hardwood floor as I dragged the rug behind me.
Before I got too far down the hall, she got my attention again. I peeked my head back into her bedroom to see what she needed. When our eyes met, she swung her arm in a big circle swiping everything in her room in one gesture – toys, dresser, bookshelf—and verbalized, “All!” Then with her bossy little pointer finger, she pointed again to the hallway. “Out!” she demanded.
“What? You want everything out of your room? Why??” I wanted to know.
“Dance!” she signed.
And I laughed. My girl wanted everything out of her bedroom so she could have a big old dance floor! Clever, yes.
But mama said, “No,” and explained that she had plenty of room to dance.
I never could have guessed that my daughter would want everything out of her room. I’m so glad I’ve learned to listen!
Learn more about assistive technology and how it might help your child.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.