You might have noticed there was a little bit of a to-do this week in British Politics. I’m not going to talk about that really, mostly as I’m all talked out about it but the following things happened to me in the wake of the referendum..
a) I got blocked on Facebook for pointing out that Nickel and Steel are not the same thing and a nickel refinery is not a steel works (yes, I know, out courting controversy all over the place, me….).
b) Someone said that my country should be glad to see the back of me if I (theoretically,
sort of jokingly) moved to Scotland because I was less than impressed with my fellow country-people’s decision in regard to Brexit.
Both of these people are people I don’t know from Adam, and at least in the case of the second one perhaps misunderstood me, and that’s what I wanted to talk about: communication or rather, the lack of it. because that ties in with the second part of my weird old week.
The Boychild has a specific language impairment as I have talked about before. The majority of people when talking to him casually probably wouldn’t notice he was different to any other kid, perhaps they’d notice he uhms and ahhs a bit, and that he doesn’t really look you in the face when talking, but his issues run far deeper than just that.
I CAN (the charity that deals with childhood communication disorders says this about SLI.
What is SLI?
Specific Language Impairment or SLI is a type of speech, language and communication need (SLCN).
Children with SLI are usually as able and healthy as other children in all ways, with one exception; they have enormous difficulty talking and understanding language. This is their main area of difficulty.
Children with SLI are all very individual.
- Have difficulty saying what they want to, even though they have ideas
- Talk in sentences but be difficult to understand
- Sound muddled; it can be difficult to follow what they are saying
- Find it difficult to understand words and long instructions
- Have difficulty remembering the words they want to say
- Find it hard to join in and follow what is going on in the playground
SLI is a very broad category, with some children having mild problems that are short-lived. Others have severe and persistent difficulties with both understanding and talking.
so, you can see why when a child with this disorder is dealing with the world, it can be a pretty confusing, scary place. It’s a bit like trying to live your life in a country where you can’t speak the language. and when the people around you don’t make allowances for your lack of language, trouble occurs. This is what happened to us this week, I won’t go into details as I don’t feel that is fair on either my son or his schoolmates or his school itself, but suffice to say I’ve had a child who refused to attend school for the last two days of last week following an incident at school. It’s been hard trying to make him understand what happened in a way that makes sense to him. Watching your child cry with confusion and hurt himself is never anyone’s idea of a fun way to spend an evening. I’m now on a mission to ensure his transition up to secondary school in September is as free from this kind of thing as possible.
I like to think we as a society are more aware and tolerant and accepting of SEN than we used to be, that we know that kids with autism aren’t ‘weird’, that kids with dyslexia aren’t ‘thick, but I do think speech and language issues might be lagging a bit in people’s general awareness. My boy isn’t stupid when he can’t understand what you are trying to say: rephrase it, explain it again, he’ll get there eventually, just give him time. He isn’t naughty when he refuses to accept something: his brain just works differently to yours and needs things to be dealt with a linear sequential way, you can’t expect him to understand the end of a topic, when he’s still fixated on the beginning. He doesn’t ‘talk funny’: he just needs more processing time, and might use the wrong word.
Just talk to him, and more importantly, listen to him. When you spend that time getting to know him, you’ll see what a funny, loving, awesome little person he is. Communication is about more than just talking at people and hoping they get it. Its about both parties having a meaningful exchange, and if one party has a Speech and language issue and walks away confused and upset? That’s your fault, not theirs. Your loss, not theirs.