The Button

I’m nearly constantly amazed at my girl.

Chloe is 10 and is mostly nonverbal.

Please understand nonverbal to mean that she doesn’t communicate with the same spoken word that most of us do. Please do NOT understand nonverbal to mean non-communicative which would be a huge misunderstanding of Chloe.

My girl communicates! She signs, she gestures, she acts things out, she attempts to vocalize and pronounce words. She also cries, screams, kicks, throws things, and jumps in frustration — all of which are part of her communication.

As most of you know already, I’m a big believer that all behavior is communication. It’s one of my mantras, really. Generally, Chloe has no problem getting her point across and her needs communicated. We may need to stop and survey the situation to access exactly what she’s saying, but I promise she is not just throwing that toy to play catch — she’s trying to tell us something that we’re missing! (And we all need to learn to be better listeners!)

But no worries to you today — I am NOT hopping up on my behavior is communication soapbox today! No. Instead I’m telling a cute story — one of many– of a time recently when Chloe impressed me with her communication skills, flexibility, and creativity.

The other day as were getting out of the car, Chloe saw the name on a name tag that was stuck on her purse: Parker.

Chloe read the name aloud: “Parker.”

And then she signed: “School,” indicating that she knows a Parker at school.

I acknowledged her statement, not completely sure I knew which kid Parker was. I thought I knew, but I wasn’t for sure. “Whose class is Parker in?” I asked to clarify which kid Parker was.

Chloe said pretty clearly (although let me point out that I had a definite context and there aren’t that many teacher names that she would’ve said at this point): “Power.”

I acknowledged and clarified that Parker is a student in Ms. Power’s class, and Chloe nodded her head in agreement.

Next as she stood in front of me just before stepping out of the car, she drew a circle in the air and then drew a line right down the middle of it.

Hmmmmm. Not sure what that was. “A circle?” I asked. “Did you draw a circle?”

She nodded, but I wasn’t convinced that was what she had done or what she had meant to communicate. Hmmmmm. Maybe it was a P?

“Did you draw a letter P? P for Power?” I asked Chloe.

She nodded yes as she oftentimes does, but I could tell that she was just saying that. She had meant to communicate something else, and I had just missed it, and she doesn’t usually give me 2 chances.

Chloe went on in the house, made a beeline right to her room, and grabbed the first battery-operated toy she could find. As she pointed to the toy’s power button, she vocalized something … something … power?

“That’s the power button, huh?” I said, grasping at straws.

She again pointed to the power button and said, “power” again.

And then I noticed the symbol: a circle with a line through it — the exact circle and line that Chloe had drawn in the air!

“Oh! Power! You drew the power-button symbol in the air! Of course, Ms. Power!! Yes, Parker is in Ms. Power’s class! Yes! Good! Good!”

I smiled, again amazed at the lengths she goes to to make sure she is communicating with those who will listen. She must be so relieved when we get it!

She is remarkable. And how many times do I just miss it??

I’m guessing she wishes everyone she tried to talk to had a power button and all she had to do was push it …. We would “turn on,” and then we would all get exactly what she was trying to tell us! Yeah, that’d be nice!



3 responses to this post.

  1. This certainly made me smile!!!!


  2. I love how determined she was to make you know just what she was communicating! I also love how determined you were to listen and figure out just what your girl was telling you! What a powerful moment!


    • I know, right? Darling! It takes time and work and patience on both our parts! But I sure love it when it works!! 🙂


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