Tag Archives: communication disorders

This is not a post about lunch boxes…

27 Sep

Maura has two lunch boxes in regular rotation, plus a spare one that’s an odd shape so not my favorite to use.

This morning, I could find neither good lunch box.
Now, we’re not ones to put things away – how silly would that be? And I remember seeing the one lunch box on the table, which means the other should have been in her backpack. But table lunch box was no longer there, and backpack lunchbox was invisible.
“Maura, where’s your lunch box?”
*radio silence*
Now, I’m used to her not responding to me. It’s sort of our thing. I ask a question, and then receive no response. Because communication is sketchy, and often given in interpretive dance (and not just by Maura – her sister *is* a theater teen.) 
I would love it if I asked Maura a question and got a response other than “yes” or “no”, which, frankly, she doesn’t often use correctly. For instance, you can say “How was school?” and she says “yes.” – we assume that means school was okay. Other times, you can say “Do you want ice cream?” and she’ll say “no.” even though she means yes. Just the other night, we were at a restaurant, and I asked if she wanted a particular food, one she likes, one she gets every time we’re there – she said “No.” She was intent on ordering a Sprite. She wanted the Sprite. She wasn’t understanding that she could get the Sprite and the food.
So no, questioning Maura isn’t always helpful.
Yet I continue to.
Why? Well, because even if she doesn’t speak, she can often find a way to answer me. And because I have faith that if we keep doing this, we may make progress.
So this morning, as I asked her again “Where is your lunch box?”, Maura suddenly responded.
“I don’t know!”
It came out a bit whiny and frustrated and teenagery.
I greeted it with joy.
“You don’t know where it is? That’s okay! Let’s look for it!”
So we never found either preferred lunchbox. And Maura’s idea of helping me look was to follow me around the house watching me look. But I finally admitted defeat and grabbed the spare lunch box. At that point, it didn’t matter. Any frustration over losing the lunch boxes was wiped out by Maura conversing with me.

Six hours after writing this post, I found both lunch boxes – one on the couch, one on the floor in the dining area. I’ve decided we have mischievous spirits who move stuff on me in the house. I think that’s a reasonable explanation. 


Sometimes you have to listen with your eyes

6 Jan

picture – adorable lil spider dude on a leaf telling you “sometimes you have to listen with your eyes”. 


Maura is somewhat verbal – but not always in English, and not always coherent. So my job is to figure out what she’s trying to convey to me. Yes, I say “my job” because she is trying to communicate, and doing it the best she can – which is her job. Understanding her communication – that’s my job.

Luckily, I have years of practice with such stuff. Even better? Maura is a very expressive girl. When she smiles, her whole face lights up and the smile goes up straight into her eyes. When she’s tired, you don’t have to ask, her weariness is written across her face. And when she’s plotting against me, I know as well, there’s an extra sparkle in that girl’s side eye.

Just now, she was pulling stuff out of an empty tissue box. She loves boxes, loves putting things in them and taking them out. It’s part of our norm, so I didn’t think much of it, but instead, asked her what was in the box.

Mind you – the following bit was all non-verbal on her part.

She got a searching look on her face as she dug around the box, then did her wide-eyed, wide open mouthed surprise look as she showed me what she’d found in the tissue box.

A little round light blue bead.

She presented it to me to ponder.

“Is that an egg?” I asked – because Maura is into eggs, and it was robin’s egg blue. “Or is it a bead?”

She tilted her head a little, her eyes narrowing and her lips pursing, pondering this question herself. I waited for an answer, which came in the form of her aiming the little blue bead-like thing towards her mouth.

“I don’t think that’s food, boo.” I said with a laugh.

She paused, considered my words, then grinned, lowing the bead as if to say “You’re probably right.”, then put it back in the box.

And we both laughed about it.

Some days, Maura is “on” verbally – using words and sentences and making her point. Other days, she’s quieter, not saying much at all. Tonight? Well, it’s Friday, she’s been busy at school all week, and is probably in need of recharging. Being verbal might be too much for her right now.

But she’s still communicating with me. And I am still listening.



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