MORE TO SAY - SOMETHING'S WRONG - I NEED MORE TIME
We live in a busy world! There’s always 101 things to do and not enough time to do it. We all get irritated when we are forced to wait. We cut corners to save time - shortening words so we can type quicker messages, using voice recognition features to contact friends faster, creating group chats so we can spread our message further. All of these things can be effective and wonderful, except maybe if you type in an abbreviated language that no one else can decipher!
There is one corner we can’t cut, one situation when being patient is non-negotiable and that is when we are assisting someone on their communication journey. When we are communicating with someone - whether it’s a baby learning its first words, a child with a disability participating in class or an adult with complex communication needs learning to use an alternate method of communication, we cannot possibly overestimate the importance of wait time. As a Speech Pathologist, I love to talk! I know it takes a great deal of effort to stop, wait, listen and respond. A lot of the time we think we are waiting – but if you were to record your conversation and watch it back, you’d probably realise you weren’t waiting as long as you thought!
When you’re interacting with your child who is learning to use a communication system, don’t fill in the silence. Say what you want to say – make a comment, give a greeting, make a request – then wait… and then wait longer than you think you should. Count to ten in your head if it helps. Give your child extra time to respond, to work out what they want to say/do. Your child will start to realise that “when mum pauses and looks at me, she must be waiting for me to do something”. Give them time to ‘do something’. Remember, communication isn’t always spoken. Respond to movements, gestures and eye gaze as well.
Pauses are powerful and communication is invaluable – it’s worth the extra time.