Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. Jacob is 21 years old and just moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. He graduated from a technical college with an Associate's degree in Computer Maintenance. He works for a school district as a computer technician. Elijah is almost 18 years old. He is hearing impaired, has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is a junior in high school. Elijah lives with his mom Mary and her wife, his stepmom. Mary has a bachelor's in deaf education and a masters in special education, and is an educational diagnostician. Life is always changing and this blog has chronicled many of these changes and will continue to do so!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I have been thinking a lot about communication, miscommunications and perceptions lately. So much of my job and my life is dependent on how I communicate with people. In my new role at work this is very true and it is also true as a parent and as human being. There is so much more to communication than the words we say, but also in how we say them and in body language!

Our basic need to communicate starts at birth. As a baby we cry to get our needs met and later as we grow we learn to talk. It is a lengthy process taking over three years of LISTENING to really get it right and it is still refined daily from even that point. For children who have a hearing loss, everything depends on when that hearing loss is discovered and the interventions put in place to assist that child in learning to communicate. I sometimes wonder if deaf toddlers watch hearing people communicate and wonder, "how are these people getting their needs met," and how frustrating it must be for that child to get his or her needs met. I could go on for days about this, because I work with children daily who are living their lives frustarted with just daily communication. This could be a blog series, but I want to turn now to how even hearing people communicate!

Even as a hearing person who has speech and language, communication can be a struggle. It isn't just in the words you say, but how you say them to convey your needs and also in your body language. It is also dependent in the baggage the listener brings with him or her. A person who initiates a conversation may have no idea that the listener has had a bad day or is holding a grudge against the speaker for something that happened several days before. An innocent conversation can turn into an arguement, just because of a miscoummincation or in how the speaker's message is interpreted.

I am finding at work that I need to chose my words and learn to read the other person when I am speaking in order to adjust my message. I am also learning to be a better listener and be patient with the person talking and let them really finish. I am a fast talker and a fast thinker, my brain starts going 100 mph and I have to tell it to slow down sometimes and be patient. I have also learned to communicate to others that I am aware I am a fast talker and I truly try to slow down, BUT if I am ever talking too fast it doesn't bother me for someone to ask me to slow down.

I have been trying to teach my 14 year old that I truly do want to listen to him when he decides to share with me. He does it so rarely that I truly do want to listen. However, I may be in the middle of something and he needs to wait so I can give him 100% of my attention or there may be background noise that is making it difficult for me to listen. He is also a mumbler and thinks I am NOT listening when in fact I am. I am hoping ROTC will help him become a better communicator!

I saw all of this to encourage others to remember how precious it is that we can communicate. To remember that communication takes two people and as a listener we should be open to listening not shut off! I am hoping to continue to grow as a good communicator!

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