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CONVERSATION

04/23/2012
Lingual limitation
   Waits upon my tongue
Water plumbed from rapids
   Filtered to a drip

Dawning slow in silence
   Hesitant returns
Nurtured as a sapling
   Sheltered from a squall
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From → Poems

6 Comments
  1. Deborah permalink

    I had to read this poem many times because its imagery is so deep. This is not a piece written in observation of Matthew, but rather it illustrates how Kyle and I have changed how we communicate with our son. Rather than speaking with the full force of language, we have had to learn how to introduce words, signs, and ideas in the simplest of forms, then build on them slowly and patiently. When Matthew was first diagnosed with ASD and labeled as non-verbal, the rule-of-thumb was to match his level plus one word/sign – this meant that we could only say/sign one word at a time (0 words/signs + 1 word/sign = 1 word/sign). In the last two years, we’ve been able to increase our standard phrases to 3-4 words at a time, since Matthew can now put 2-3 words together. Although this may sound painfully slow to most parents, we are thrilled by his ability to communicate with us. Many thanks to the creators and instructors of The Hanen Centre’s “More Than Words” curriculum for their guidance and encouragement!

    Now, back to the imagery of the poem: I love how Kyle has compared the full spectrum of verbal language to strong environmental forces (rapids, squall). To Matthew, listening to people talk quickly – with lots of words and distractions – is overwhelming, and he is struck silent by his confusion. “Water plumbed from rapids / Filtered to a drip” describes our efforts to take those long, confusing sentences and rephrasing them so that the ideas are simply stated for maximum communication…then waiting 10 seconds for Matthew to respond. So, instead of saying, “Are you hungry? Do you want something to eat?”, we say, “Time to eat?” Matthew has taught us a lot about patience and the importance of communication. He is indeed our “sapling” which must be protected so he can grow into a mighty oak.

  2. Rebecca permalink

    The phrase “sheltered from a squall” is a perfect description of you both as his parents – protecting him from the full force of too many words until he is ready.

  3. Cheryl permalink

    This is a beautiful description of our language and something most of us miss in everyday conversation and that is waiting for a response from the person we are conversing with. Most people are uncomfortable to wait 2-3 seconds without making a response comment. I wish more of us would learn to wait and let others process what has been said, before responding. I know this was meant for Matthew, but it really is a lesson for all.

  4. Chris permalink

    This really has some depth. Deborah – I’m glad you said what you did because I was thinking of this in terms of Matthew not you and Kyle. It is so layered, It’s amazing that it’s as short as it is.

  5. Kelly permalink

    I love this poem. This is a great example of all that you have and are doing for Matthew. Thank you for the explaination, as well. I, too, thought it was in reverse…the “rapids” being all that happen inside Matthew, but it is forced into a drip because of his verbal limitations. This is absolutely beautiful and so full of layers and imagery.

  6. Loraine permalink

    Very well written! I read through the poem three times on my email before I read all the other comments. As a parent who also shelters the language I use with my son (yeah for the Hanen class!), I immediately identified with the imagery and the perspective. The progress I see reinforces the filter on my language, but I struggle most when my son is excited about something. Then, I want to pour out everything I can and sweep him along down the rapids with me. Instead, I purse my lips together, smile, and watch my little sapling grow. Deborah and Kyle, I am so excited for you that Matthew is making so much progress too.

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