Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Observing Communication

This past week we had my husband's family visit from New York. My brother in law is 29 years old and he has down syndrome. He is one of the most loyal, fun, smart, loving individuals that I have ever met and I'm so thankful to be a part of his family. One day while they were visiting we decided to grill out and have a barbecue. All of us went outside and sat on the back patio while watching the kids swim, we talked, laughed and just had a good time. This is where I observed Marc communicating with my daughter, Lailie.

Lailie was playing and swimming. She would go back and fourth between the four wheeler and the pool, play in the sprinkler and then want to swing on her playground set. Marc was so kind in speaking to her. There was a time Lailie was in the pool and she was splashing and getting the grill wet while it was on. Marc said "No, no Lailie Bear (Notice how he gives her a nickname here) and he says "You can't do that because were trying to cook." He directs her attention and throws in some water rings for the tubes that she has to find.

It melted my heart that Marc kept an eye on her and played with her and talked with her. He's such a good uncle! When Lailie was on her four wheeler he would walk over to a specific place in the yard and say "You can't get me, Lailie" and he would laugh. Lailie thought it was funny of course and would go after him on her four wheeler. "In my experience working with children, the way I know a child is to see their play. And the way I can find out about their play is first watch them, and then ask them questions about where they are in their play mind." (Kolbeck, 2013) "Where are you going" Marc asked as Lailie turned the four wheeler the wrong way. Haha :-) Lailie is 2 years old and has Apraxia of speech so she does not use a lot of words and the words that she does use are one words or two words put together, no more then that. "In my time with the children, I learned that each child has a different style, and is likely to talk in different ways and in different contexts. I needed to find ways they could communicate that were enjoyable for them." (Stephenson, 2009)

To make the communication more effective and more affirming Marc could have been a better listener and listened to Lailie more. A big part of communicating effectively is being a good listener. Lailie could have listened to Marc a little better as well. Marc could have asked a few more open ended questions.

It amazes me how Lailie understands Marc and how he speaks even though he speaks differently then most people. She loves being around him, she understands him, and she looks up to him. The communication interactions between Lailie and Marc were overall great and fun experiences for the both of them. Of course everyone could use improvement but life is about learning. The observations really made Lailie laugh and smile.

The adult-child communication that I observed this week compares to how I communicate with children in the way that I'm always thinking, always speaking, always asking questions. At the same time I'm always listening to what others say. I'm a good listener! That's one of my strong points! What I have learned about myself this week is that there are always things I can do to become a more effective communicator. As a future educator, I want to make sure I gain all the skills and knowledge needed to be the most effective teacher I can be. I know how very important communication is, not just with the children/students but with their families too.

Kolbeck. (2013). []. Strategies for working with diverse children “communicating with young children., Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/Walden/EDUC/6358/03/downloads/WAL_EDUC6358_03_A_EN.pdf

Stephenson, A. (2009). Conversations with a 2-year-old. EBSCOhost, 95. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=fd96cc78-f0ac-439e-8ce7-22d2d0ba6ffd@sessionmgr14&vid=2&hid=2


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, listening is an critical component to communication. It can determine if the communication process is successful or not.


  2. Thank you for sharing a personal story and pictures. It seems like you have a great family! The observation of communication showed me that both your daughter and brother-on-law have a respect for one another. Your daughter showed this in her actions and Marc showed it in his words and actions. Listening is an important part of the communication process as well, and maybe in the near future they can have a dialog that involves both parties talking and expressing feelings. Reflection of the communication can also help both individuals. Maybe you can ask your daughter questions about her communication with Marc to see if she is understanding the communication fully.An example could be, "Lailie, Uncle Marc said not to throw water on the grill. Do you remember why?".

  3. Stacy,
    What wonderful observations! I immensely enjoyed reading your story because I am so partial to citizens with special needs. My four year-old has Autism and I love watch him acting and interacting with others. This week, I was at a family reunion and my kids had a fantastic time. When my son was displeased with me, he would find someone-- anyone to affirm his feelings about my decisions. Marc appears to love his niece and she loves him too. It is very important for me to listen to my kids and not raise them like I was raised.—Do as I say! Thanks for reminding me how important it is to listen to my kids.

  4. Stacy,

    I enjoyed reading your story. I have a lady that I help on the weekend and she is the same way towards my middle daughter. She is forty-one and is down syndrome. She is compassionate, always willing to lend a hand with my daughter Destiny I enjoy spending time with her.