We all at one point or another have become frustrated while communicating. It’s one of the most common human experiences. Already, as babies we adjusted our behavior when our communication was not being understood. We cried, we kicked and we stuck out our arms. As we got older, the frustration didn’t become less, our behavior simply changed. As young children we threw ourselves down on the floor kicking and screaming. We lashed out and hit and kicked siblings and parents. We threw items down or across the room. As parents we say things like, “use your words”, or “I will listen to you once you stop that behavior.”
A couple weeks ago, the “x” key stopped working on my laptop. Now, fortunately, the x key does not get used as much as other keys. In fact, in my previous paragraph it was used only one time. But when you need to type the word experience, that x key sure comes in handy. When filling out forms, it sure helps when I live in North Sioux City. It also plays a huge role in typing the phrase “X marks the spot”. Without the X we are at a loss for what is marking said spot. Therefore, after a couple days of frustration around not having my dear x key, I brought my laptop in for repairs. What I was told is that the repair could take 4-6 weeks. I immediately got frustrated. The inner child in me wanted to yell and stomp. However, I “affirmed my feelings, and chose my behavior.” I thanked the young geek (I was at Best Buy, so I can call him that), and left the store thinking about how am I going to get any work done in the next few weeks?
As I pluck away on a much smaller keyboard and look on the screen of this iPad, I continue to have frustration but was taught a lesson yesterday that has reminded me, I still have it pretty good. Though I have all the letters of the alphabet again at my disposal, I was reminded by my 14 year old son yesterday, he does not. Though Tyler’s communication over the years has grown significantly, he still struggles at times expressing his thoughts due to his fragile x. Those close to him often anticipate his needs based on what we know about him. Yesterday, he was struggling to find the words to let me know what he desired. I could sense his frustration growing and mine as well. Didn’t he know I was trying to type an e-mail with less than desirable means available to me? Then it hit me…everyday he struggles the same way.
Everyday, he is trying to get across his needs, wants and desires but without always having the words at his disposal. He has historically gotten so frustrated that he hits or scratches himself or others, he throws things, or he yells. Many of the same things that crossed my mind trying to work without an X or from a small iPad keyboard. Fortunately, he has grown so much over the years. Yesterday, he simply looked at me and said, “come on dad” as he encouraged me to figure out what it is he was trying to say. I finally said, ‘you are excited for the Christmas tree to get up?” He smiled big and said “yeah!” Through the several frustrating minutes, he gave me such grace as I struggled to understand his communication. I guess I can give myself that same grace as I wait to get my computer back.
Tim Geels – SVP of Instruction and Corporate Implementation