Her Language

From the moment she wakes, she is making sounds. High and low, up and down, soft and loud and soft. She sings and hums, she babbles repetitively; sounds that cannot accurately be represented through typed letters. It is, as one woman put, incessant.

During the day, it becomes background music. At bedtime, it can be annoying. But I am most aware of it when we are in public. Once, I was told that she was “distracting the other children.” But there is no stopping it. There is no silencing her.

Her vocalizations were once hurtful, indicating an altered brain, and the fact that I, her own mother, had no idea if she was speaking words I should recognize or if she was just making noise.

In the past, I clumped all of her “noises” in the category of vocal stimming. Recently, I’ve started seeing it as one of her languages, her primary language. (Hope was actually the first one to help me see it as a language – she used to mimic Rhema’s sounds back to her. And then I watched Amanda Baggs‘ profound video, and it forever changed my thinking about communication.)

It occurred to me that while it is so important to me that she learn to speak and understand my language (and I am so appreciative when she does), it’s just as important that I learn hers. So I’ve been practicing when she’s asleep or at school, trying to say things the way she says them and when she says them. When I sing a string to her, she doesn’t always look me in the eye, but she grins a soft grin. Sometimes she repeats it back to me. Sometimes she just giggles.

As I wrote in Song Without Words, I realize that I don’t have to know the meanings of the words in her language. Often she is prompted to repeat words in my language whether she understands the meaning or not. The hope is that she will understand the meaning in time. Perhaps I will understand the meaning of her words in time.

Sometimes she is so busy talking in her language, she does not listen well… to me or to her teachers. She has to be shushed to hear what we are saying. Sometimes I am so busy talking in my language, I do not listen well. I have to be shushed to hear what she is saying.

But when I hear it, really hear it, I feel like the most blessed mother of all, because her lovely chorus fills my days.

Here’s a sample of my daughter’s beautiful song, her voice, her language. It’s called “I Want Rice.”

“My language is not about designing words or even visual symbols for people to interpret. It is about being in a constant conversation with every aspect of my environment, reacting physically to all parts of my surroundings.” ~ Amanda Baggs

37 thoughts on “Her Language

  1. I have to say, she has a beautiful, beautiful voice! Both the hubs and I watched this.

    She clearly is singing something to you. Sometimes, most times, I wish I could have a pass into our children’s lives to understand them better. Upon my return ticket, I would love to share that knowledge and help us all with our kids…but alas, I have no pass, none of us have that ticket…so until then, we can listen to their beautiful songs.

  2. I love that you are trying to learn HER language. I don’t know if many people would have thought of that. You are truly a beautiful person and such a great mom. You and your family continue to be in my prayers.

    And Rhema has such an angelic little voice.

    Blessings to you all!

  3. She is beautiful, and her song is sweet. Did she get rice off-camera?

    Yea, I know communication is the topic, but I’ve just got to own-up to the fact that I like to watch children move. She moves very well.

    My heart sings a little to see comments from BLR. The internet is a gift from God for communication.

    Ooops. I’m off topic again. No analysis of my ‘language’ please! 😉

  4. You are a wonderful Mom to begin to learn her language-she will thank you one day-of that I am sure. She has a beautiful voice!!

  5. I was so annoyed with my computer, don’t know what’s going on with it as I am sooo not technical but when my speakers weren’t working I couldn’t hear this video….whatever occurred it came back. So very happy to finally hear Rhema’s beautiful voice. God is working amazingly in your lives…thank you for all words and sharing God’s miracles with us.

    I love you my friend!!

  6. “Sometimes I am so busy talking in my language, I do not listen well. I have to be shushed to hear what she is saying.”

    Sometimes, J, you take the words right out of my head before I even realize I am thinking them.

    Reaching out from TX to give you a cyber-hug. 🙂


  7. I love that you are Rhema’s student learning what she has to teach us all. I love her dance as much as her song! Your realization makes me recall the Kaufman’s book, Sonrise. It’s a good encouraging classic from the library. xo

  8. Thanks for the peek at Rehma, I have been reading about her for awhile and seen a couple of pictures but viedo really lets you see her in a way that you can not otherwise. She is beautiful and endearing. I loved your post today.

  9. How sweet. I read somewhere an autistic person likened his experience to having to learn a different language and culture to fit into our world. It is nice that you are trying to fit into your daughter’s world.

  10. that little one of yours is a gift. thank you for sharing these glimpses, sounds. most people have to make due with the language of others. she has her own way of sounding out of the world, a truly individual language. quite perfect.

    (i like that she accompanies each song with a spin).

  11. Pingback: Self-singing « Autism In a Word

  12. Pingback: Learning to Speak « Autism In a Word

  13. Pingback: Autism, epilepsy and song « Autism In a Word

  14. Pingback: Voice memos « Autism In a Word

  15. Pingback: Heartsong « Autism In a Word

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s