Thursday, April 21, 2016

Currency in Communication

I have often mentioned that Tyler and I have a bond that relies on a lot of non-verbal communication.  We are very close because we figured out a language that was made of a mixture of verbalization, gesturing, and body language.  

As caregivers, we have to think about "language" in an unconventional way when we are relating to our special loved ones.  The most important thing is not HOW we come to understand each other, but the fact that we understand each other in any way possible.

For Tyler, I had to be able to imagine what its like to not be able to understand how to communicate verbally.  I imagine how stressful it would be if someday I woke up in a foreign country and could not understand what was being said to me, or had the ability to communicate what I needed.  It really is a scary thought if you think about it that way. For special needs people who are non-verbal, this is their world on a daily basis.
A major factor for Tyler, as with many with special needs, is the ability to develop trust with those who care for him.  Trust is almost impossible to develop without understanding between any two people.  When we look back on the vast number of people who took part in Tyler's care over the years, there is a distinctive pattern.  People who established a clearer line of communication with him by acknowledging his methods were highly more successful than those who could not. In his case, people that are direct, animated, engaging, and genuine gain his trust more quickly than people that are introverted or timid. When he senses someone has confidence in themselves and in him, he tends to be less aggressive and will allow his own personality to come through.  We use this knowledge to be smarter about who cares for him, and how they care for him.

I think there is a broad lesson to be learned here.  We all have our own forms of personal "currencies" that we collect and offer to others. We are attracted to people because we enjoy the same currencies as they deal in.  We reject other people who do not value the same things that we value.  Most people are able to adjust on the fly, but most with special needs may not.  Which is why it is so important to observe what works for them in order to gain their confidence and trust.  It takes love, patience, and time, but could be the key to a long and wonderful relationship.

Take the time to learn the currencies that your friends and loved ones find important.  Be open and allow others to see the communication values that are important to you as well. It may just change your relationships in a positive way.

Be well and God bless.   Tom

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