My diabetes is trudging along as usual so I thought it was time for a speechie post!
I’ve been on adult placement for the past month or so and it’s been such an enlightening experience. I’ve learnt so much from the other student clinicians around me, but I have gained the most knowledge from the clients.
I went into placement nervous because I had this idea that communication was mostly speech. I had trouble talking to my grandmother when her dementia was advancing for this very reason- I just had no idea what to say. I would get nervous and worried about saying the wrong thing and terrified that I would freeze up if I didn’t understand what someone was trying to tell me.
So I go into a career where you work with individuals who likely won’t use speech as their primary mode of communication… yeah I don’t know what I was thinking either!
But I am so glad I did. Speech is definitely not the only way we communicate! I’ve been able to play the piano for clients, like I used to for my grandmother. Turns out that music is a pretty great universal communication tool!
I’ve had fantastic conversations where speech was not my communication partner’s method of communication, and they’ve been so fulfilling. It’s not scary or something to be nervous about. Sometimes I don’t understand and all I have to do is say so! Then we can try and work it out together. Sometimes we don't and that's ok too.
I’m sure you know the feeling when you’ve not quite caught what someone has said. Do you tell them? Do you nod and smile hoping it wasn’t a question? That’s not okay when you’re a speechie! It’s our job to listen and try to understand. We provide some way for these people to get their message across. These people are parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends and important members of society. Their voices deserve to be heard just as much as ours, regardless of how they express it.
I am so privileged to be able to communicate with these people, they teach me so much. We’re not different really, we’re just people. They use humour about their communication just like I use humour about my diabetes. We all take what we have and make the best of it.
I didn’t know how to talk to my grandmother, and I do wish I knew some of the techniques I’ve gathered over the past month. But at least I can spend time listening to clients, learning from them and hopefully with time giving something back to them.
It’s easy to forget what we’re doing when there’s lots of paperwork and planning to be done. I might get stressed, anxious and low sometimes, but communicating with these people makes it all worthwhile.