Radio Human

I'm a science girl. Unashamedly, I might add. Statistics. Evidence. All that good shit. That's not to say I don't also hold some entirely irrational and non-theory grounded opinions. I do. 

- I ALWAYS look left to right when I'm crossing the train track in Poole High Street. (Yes, Poole High Street has an actual train track running straight through the middle of it.) If you think about this it's entirely ridiculous. I've yet to see the invention of an invisible silent train that doesn't trigger the barriers, and I'm pretty sure that won't happen in my lifetime. 

-As far as possible, I avoid stepping on these at all costs:

In my overactive imagination, each manhole (square?) is a trapdoor-style portal into the underworld, waiting to suck unsuspecting passers-by into a parallel dimension. The only basis I have for this is Red Dwarf. Hardly the height of empiricism. 

- I smack the TV if it's fuzzy. No reasoning. None. I am well aware it's likely to make the issue worse. But still. I. Can't. Not. Thump. The. Box. 

So yeah, there are occasions when my science brain takes leave, but for the most part I'd like to think I make the most rational decisions based on the info available at the time. Excepting Facebook. I'm an avid facebooker despite 90% of the shit I scroll-by irking me 99% of the time. As an (almost) social scientist, pop psych bullshit from dodgy sources really pisses me off. I reserve a special level of rage for the supposed fix-your-life crap on inspirational sunset backgrounds. I mean fucksake guys, at least reference that bollocks so I can direct my internal fury at an actual person. Sorry if that offends anyone, I'm all for the whatever-works-for-you approach, but for me personally life requires way more effort than telling myself I'm awesome every morning. 

Plus I knew that anyway. 😆 

I came across this the other day, which hit a particular nerve. Don't get me wrong, I love a good pie... chart as much as the next person. But as the parent of a child with additional needs, this gave me the rage. And paradoxically got me thinking hard about people's perceptions of non-verbal kiddos. 

According to this very smart-looking pie chart with impressive stats and big words, 38% of communication happens through voice tones, 55% through physiology, and only 7% through verbal language. There is no reference to show from whence this magical fount of knowledge spurted forth. There is also nothing to tell me what exactly the chart creators meant by 'physiology' or 'voice tones'. Shouting at someone with your boobs out communicates more than regular clothed speaking? Well, duh. 

Overall, I guess it's (badly) labouring the point that communication is so much more than verbal speech. And while well intended pop-psych bullshit pisses me off, I absolutely agree with this basic premise. Let me expand. 

The last couple of days B has refused to get on the bus to school. Although he has no words to use, we can accurately infer from flailing limbs, accidental punches to the face (ours not his), and arms full of scratches that being on the bus is not a yes thing right then. 

We're not privvy to the why's. Could be the nasty stale-arse smell of the bus. Could be the screechy noises of the other kids. Could be the barely-contained simmering response of the bus driver to the car that just got thrown at his head. Could be his peg is sore. Or he's hungry. Or he feels sick. Or he's seizing. Or he had really bad seizures last night and is now brain-fogged. Or he's just frankly pissed off with life. Due to his non-verbal-ness we have no idea. Your guess is literally as good as least that's what it feels like. 

Our house happens to be on a main road. This main road happens to form part of the main route to the local primary school. The bus happens to arrive outside our main-road house just as every man and his dog stroll past on their blissful walk to school every morning. And to all and sundry walking past, how B communicates his bus aversion looks very much like a mammoth scale toddler tantrum. And it got me to wondering about perceptions of meltdowns and non-verbal behaviour from the outside. 

Because it looks like a tantrum, people assume it is a tantrum. And what do you do with tantrumming toddlers? Reasoning with a squawking two year old is akin to negotiating with Trump- pretty damn impossible. So, for their own safety, you scoop them up and physically manhandle them to the place you need them to be until they calm the fuck down. But here's the deal-applying that same principle to an older child with complex and additional needs is seriously dodgy. A lack of language does not mean zero understanding, and when a person's only method of communication is their behaviour, treating the stuff we as society deem 'inappropriate' with ignorant broad stroke toddler tactics is at best, hugely disrespectful, and at worst, hugely damaging. 

Essentially, it all boils down (again) to tolerance and understanding. When my typical children verbalise a choice or decision, I do not force compliance (physically or otherwise) if that choice does not match my own. Equally, I need to listen to my non verbal child as he's flailing in distress and refusing to walk out to the bus in the morning, not bundle him on as though his voice doesn't matter. 

I think a lot of this also boils down to embarrassment on the behalf of parents like me. Embarrassment which is consolidated rather than dispelled by society's attitudes. Trust me, we know our kids are weird. We're acutely aware it's not usual to drop to your knees and face plant a puddle at the park. We're fully feeling the not-love when our kids accidentally backhand yours in the face from over excited flapping and zero spatial awareness. We get the grossness of our kid dribbling all over the softplay stuff. And those times when we're waiting in the supermarket queue and our kid is kicking you in the back of the legs and screaming the fucking place down? We want a conveniently placed square manhole to suck us into an alternate universe. 

All parents are under constant social pressure to raise kids who conform and get on in society, it just ramps up a level when your kid doesn't follow the typical development trend. The punk anarchist in me would quite like to rewrite the unwritten society bullshit. It pisses me off that convention so often dictates our thinking towards people. Our kids break the social rules. They're not being brats (at least most of the time)- trust me that would be a hell of a lot easier to contend with. And the world is a horribly harsh place to be if that mould-breaking behaviour is our kids' only voice. 

So applying small-person behaviour tactics and ignoring the 'bad' shit while praising the 'good' doesn't work. My kid- my incredibly vulnerable kid- learns that I listen when he's happy but have no time for him when he's sad. What kind of ass-backward message is that? More than anyone, B needs to know I am his safe person. That I will always listen, even when no one else can hear him. I refuse to condition my child into 'social appropriateness' if it means losing the one link I have to communicate with him. Quite frankly, fuck that shite. 

So this would help us. And our kids. Instead of assuming, how about society learns to listen? To tune in to the wide bandwidth of frequencies on Radio Human, not just those that feel ok

*And yes, you have my full permission to whack that on a sunset background and improve your life. You can even Insta it. As long as you reference me, obvs. 


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