Thursday, December 30, 2010

Communication Error (by LeMira)

Think of the last conversation you had that made you frustrated.  What made you frustrated about that conversation?  Were you trying to make a point, teach someone a concept, or give someone instructions?  Were they just not getting it?  Or did you just feel like the other person wasn't listening?  Did you feel like you were talking to a brick wall?  Did you get a blank stare in return?  When the person did respond, did he make sense?

Communication continually is a problem, a road block.  Most of my frustrations are because I feel like I'm being ignored.  I lose my temper because I feel like my son responds in slow motion or that I have to repeat myself five times, if not more, to be understood or heeded.  I hang my head in shame at the times that I've yelled because he just didn't move fast enough.

It's so easy to get caught up in how something affects me, that my life is being disrupted or put in slow motion, but what about him?  I've been thinking about his side of things, and maybe this is how he sees it.

Scenario 1:  Imagine you're working on a project.  You're so engrossed that you've blocked out the world.  Vaguely, you hear background noise, but it isn't related to what you're doing, so you push it out.  You're shaken out of your world as you hear your name screamed at you.   Your mom says, "I've called you three times, you need to listen when I'm talking to you!"  You hang your head in shame and apologize for not hearing her, but you're more frustrated that you were expected to respond when you had no idea you were wanted.

Scenario 2:  You climb into the car after school, and you know what mom is going to ask, and so you say, "I had a good day at school today.  I had fun."   You expect this to deflect her questions because you offered it first.  Mom then asks, "What did you learn in math?"  Immediately you think of your teacher and the classroom.  You think about the worksheet and that your aide helped you with the guided practice.  Mom tries to prompt you with questions about adding and subtracting, but you're confused.  What is she asking?  You might even remember your teacher working problems on the board, but you can't remember what she called it.  Your mom asks again, and you realize she needs an answer now.  "I don't know," you say.  The words are jumbled in your head.  

When you try to tell her about recess and what you played, you can't remember the name of the friends you played with or that one thing you did.  You can see it in your mind, but you can't remember what it's called.  Instead you say, "We had three recesses today."  

Homework is a nightmare.  You read the words, but you don't know what they mean, and you don't know how to ask what it means.  Your mom is reading it to you, but you don't understand that one word.  She doesn't explain it the same way the teacher does.  In class, you had to use a green crayon, but your homework says to use a yellow crayon; it's not the same.  Mom is trying to explain it, but she's going too fast and her voice is getting louder.  There are so many problems on the page.  It's now 4:15, you'll never get done by 4:30.  "I can't do this!" you shout.

As his mom, I'm realizing more and more that I have to slow down, be patient.  He is trying, he really is.  Some days I'm worn out from saying things five different ways until he understands.   I want him to understand me the first time.  The more I lose my temper, the more he does.  He reacts the way I do based on his observations of me -- because that's the way he learns his social interactions.  Some days, I'm looking into a mirror and listening to a recording of myself.  It's not pretty.

However, there is hope.  He is getting better, and so am I.  Instead of rushing him or getting angry when he can't recall a word, I try to prompt him or wait patiently.  He gets frustrated easily because he knows he's not fast enough, but I'm learning to give him time and not make him panic.  The words are there, and I know how frustrating it is for him to have blank spots for simple words like "car" or "party."  These are words he knows, but somehow he blanks out.  If I'm always getting angry, he'll never have the confidence that he can do it, and he'll always think that he can't do it or that it's too hard. 

As in everything with my son, I have to give him time, and not my timetable, but his.  And that is the hardest part for me.