It’s Just About Getting the Words
“It’s just about getting the words,” my chorus director said. She had 200 deer in the headlights faces looking at her as we were attempting to learn a new piece of music. We were singing in an unfamiliar African language. For the most part we had the tempo and tune. That was actually enough to covey that it was a joyful song. But about what exactly?
I think about all of the ways Aidan communicates – facial expressions, gestures, vocalizations, eye gaze, driving his wheelchair. Because Aidan is non-verbal and has had limited success with AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication), I pay closer attention to him. I do a lot of guess work and deduction. I have a good idea when he’s happy and sad and in pain and frustrated and tired and joyful. But about what exactly?
“It’s just about getting the words,” my chorus director said. She was excited when she spoke. It was clear that the tempo and tune counted for something; an important part of the music was already spilling over without words. My director also has confident expectation that we will learn the words before our concert. Through modeling and repetition she has committed herself to helping us learn them.
“It’s just about getting the words.” I’m not even sure her comment would have struck me had I not been at the end of a long day without my own words. In another small attempt to see the world through Aidan’s eyes, I chose to be non-verbal for the day. I was both thankful that there are many other ways to communicate and frustrated that they are so limiting.
“It’s just about getting the words.” I want the rest to be enough; I want Aidan to be fully heard and understood without them; I want others to take time to listen to what is not being said.
“It’s just about getting the words.” But sometimes that is everything.
Video – Not of my group but this is one of the songs we’re learning. Check out how many levels of communication are involved.
I will be writing more about my day of not speaking. In the meantime, check out this mom who was braver, better prepared, and more articulate than I and gave up her voice for a week.