Sunday, October 30, 2016

I Assure You, She Speaks

Morgan is now over 2 years old and the only two words she knows are Mom and Da (Dad). Not very many. Everything else is just babble and noises. Whether or not that gets better over time is anyone's guess. She may, at some point, take off and start adding words like crazy to the scant two she already says. She may go slowly, adding one here or one there. Or, she may never have many words to work with. No one knows and neither do I. I can't even begin to guess.

But what I do know, is that Morgan says so much more than her two known words. She communicates what she needs and feels all the time. You just have to pay attention. Most of her communication is non-verbal. We are trying to teach her sign language. There are challenges with this too. Her vision impairment and her struggle with fine motor skills make it challenging, but she is learning. She now knows the sign for milk, though she doesn't always use it. It's progress.

Have you ever wondered why it's so easy to understand someone while speaking face-to-face? That misunderstandings are more likely to occur during phone conversations? Don't get me started on text messaging. That's a another topic.

"Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc)."

The study that Mehrabian conducted was back in 1972 and has been disputed or supported many times over the years. I don't know if these percentages are accurate or not. But what I can tell you is that the non-verbal stuff is pretty important in our house.

Our bodies say a lot. Our words add to what's readable in our posture and movements. We communicate with so much more than words alone. And so this is with Morgan. She definitely communicates differently. Her cues aren't typical. But if you are paying attention, really paying attention, she tells you everything.

I know she is hungry or tired by how tense and irritated she is while playing. How comfortable she is in a new environment with how much she is able to interact with me. I know she wants to be picked up when she straightens her spine a little and holds her bent arms up to shoulder height. She tells me how cool she thinks a toy is by holding it out for me and anyone to see. She says hello to someone she loves by reaching out to touch their face. And she uses her arsenal of facial expressions to convey everything she is feeling.

I know she is saying "I love you Mommy," every time she gently holds onto a lock of my hair when I pick her up.

She may not have many words, but I assure you, Morgan speaks.   

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