Listen, or Walk Away?

By Connie Horn

As I was getting ready for work this morning I was listening as my grandson was trying to ask my daughter something. My daughter did not understand what he was trying to say. He kept saying it over and over again, with more frustration in his voice each time. In the end, he threw his hands up into the air and walked away………he had given up. 

The interaction between my daughter and grandson had me thinking about the people we support who have limited or no verbal skills.  When I worked as a direct support staff there was this lady I supported who stuttered when she talked. She spent her day walking up and down the hallways of the facility. She was very outgoing and loved to talk to anyone who would listen to her.

I noticed on several occasions staff would stop to talk to her.  Absolutely nothing wrong with that, however, when she started to stutter and she couldn’t get the words out, they would slowly start walking down the hallway away from her as she was speaking.

As they were moving down the hallway I would hear things from the staff like “Yeah, yeah….”, “Really?”, “See you later I have to go” and to be honest even “Hurry up and get it out. I don’t have time”.  End result was she was left standing in the middle of the floor still trying to get her words out. I can only imagine how she must have felt when this happened.

Communication plays a central part in everyone’s life.

Most people learn to communicate as part of their natural development, but some people, especially if they happen to have an intellectual disability, often need assistance and support in order to be able to communicate effectively with others. Being able to communicate effectively can help people build relationships, make their wants and needs known, and they can exercise more choice and control over their lives.

Whether or not someone stutters when they speak or you just can’t understand them at all, do you take the time to listen? Or do you just walk away………………

What do you think?

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