Most people who didn't know us, who didn't know Quirky before we moved here, would be surprised at how far she has come in her communication in such a short amount of time. She has her own way of saying things, but she gets her point across. If you listen carefully, you'll recognize movie lines and tones of voice that she has stored away for use. Her words may not come together in the most eloquent of ways, and some days I'm left wondering what she is talking about, but Quirky is gloriously verbal. Dork and I, although we get aggravated some days, understand that we are lucky.
We've gone through the nonverbal and quiet times, where we spent our days guessing what she wanted or needed. I'd be lying if I said that we didn't have those days still, but they are few and far between. We have gone through the just echoing times, where I thought I might go crazy because we were so close to real communication. Some days I would cry because I didn't understand her and she would cry because we couldn't understand her. What a mess! Slowly it got better though, and I learned a few tricks. I would ask, " Do you want cereal or oatmeal?",instead of "Do you want oatmeal?". Then she could echo her choice and reply, "Do you want cereal?" Sounds crazy, and most days it was, but slowly things got better. Somewhere along the way, communication stopped being a major problem. We still have quiet days, but most days she talks, and if you let her talk about her obsessions she won't shut up.
Now that the largest battle has been won, she, Dork, and I have been working on the small things. We try to explain when she has used a word in the wrong context, or when her tone of voice doesn't match the situation. Watching movies, reading books and discussing them has been a great tool for us. We can explain that just because animal says everything in a loud obnoxious way, doesn't mean we should. We've even begun tackling idioms, which quite frankly, some of those leave me saying, "What?" I was inspired by Idiom Posters that I saw on Pinterest. I considered whether to buy some, make my own, or have Quirky make her own. I decided to let Quirky research and create her own. I really don't know I considered any other choice, hers turned out beautiful and she has even begun using them in her communication.
I think communication will always be a little bit of a struggle for Quirky. She may not always understand the little nuances of facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and word choice, but she will be able to communicate in her way to get her thoughts and feelings across. Like I said, we are lucky...no the world is lucky. We all get to hear her voice, and I think it will have funny, wonderful, and beautiful things to say.
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