Monday, July 28, 2008

A Better Talker, A Better Listener

I'm not a good listener.  But I value good listening.  So I work hard to listen.  But I'm not good at it, so it's a real strain for me.

Enter Jada, who though she's way behind in the verbals, it's not for lack of trying, for she is constantly jabbering away.  She is what the speech therapists call "echolalic," which means she repeats stuff rather than really conversing.

Which means that what we have to do when we converse with her is not just repeat what she's just said, but rather push her to actually converse.  Which means I have to practice an important element of good listening: paraphrasing.  If Jada says, "Mama made my bracelet," I shouldn't just affirm her statement ("Yes, Mama made your bracelet"); rather, I need to restate what she said ("Yes, the bracelet that you're wearing, Mama made that for you") and/or, even better, ask her a follow-up question that draws out her initial comment ("And tell me about your bracelet," "And what color is your bracelet," "And are you allowed to wear that bracelet to school?"). 

Tiring, to say the least, especially as she continues to struggle with questions and dialogue that push her outside her existing inventory of words and sentences.  But I guess I can take comfort that all this effort will help make her a better talker.  I can definitely say it pushes me to be a better listener.
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