Shabby Miss Jenn

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Power of a Head Nod

For a very long time now, Wade has been very confident in his ability to communicate "no". Isn't every toddler?!?! He gets this little look on his face and adamantly shakes his head "no". It's very cute, and he definitely gets his point across. Sometimes the head shaking is also in conjunction with a high pitched squeal which definitely has the ability of getting under your skin very quickly! The problem? He answered "no" for everything! Even when asked if he wanted something I definitely knew he wanted, he still replied with shaking his head "no". That would then inevitably lead to frustration because he really did want the item he was shaking his head "no" to!

My theory--and as a parent to a child with special needs, I have a lot--is that his neck wasn't strong enough to nod "yes". He hadn't yet perfected a way to nod "yes" in a way that it didn't take so much effort and muscle strength. To nod "yes", you have to move your head up and down a few times to get your point across. Moving down was the easy part. The difficult part was getting his head back up as quick as it went down. Wade's a pretty smart cookie, so I knew that he really understood the difference between "yes" and "no". In fact, I'd be willing to bet that if I really took the time to study the way he shook his head "no", there was probably a slight difference in the way he shook it depending on whether he meant yes or no. Unfortunately, in the moment, it's pretty hard to take the time to study the head shake as you're also trying to prevent a tantrum because of frustration.

But thank goodness we no longer have to figure it out or study the situation. While we were in VA for the holidays, Wade discovered a way to say "yes" with a very slight head nod up and down. A lot of times, he also raises his eyebrows just a bit to really get his point across. Then the best part is he'll grin because he's so impressed with himself when we understand what he wants! It's amazing how much easier our lives have become in the past two weeks, all because of a simple head nod! It's these tiny, little things in life that we typically take for granted that mean the world to us. I never dreamed that having a three year old nod "yes" would be one of the biggest highlights of my life. Funny thing is, these little strides make me sit back and really appreciate the gift we've been given. Would I *choose* for my child to have cerebral palsy? Absolutely not! If God came to me today and told me he could change it all and take away every single symptom related to cerebral palsy, would I agree? Absolutely not! Cerebral palsy does not define Wade, but it has certainly made him the person he is today. Cerebral palsy has made ME the person I am today, and I look forward to the many blessings that will come from parenting one of the most amazing kids in the world!

On a side note, the iPad has been and continues to be, our go to device for understanding Wade. However, the iPad isn't always at arms reach. Sometimes you just need a quick answer without having to go through a computer.


Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog and ironically we are working on yes/no with our soon to be three year old son too. His SLP has us singe a little song and physically help him nod his head. It goes "Nodding, Nodding, Nodding, my head is nodding I can say Yes" Shaking, Shaking, Shaking, my head is shaking I can say No" Cody loves it. We've also used little voice recorded buttons placed under his chin or beside his check that say yes or no. Little stinker quickly realized that he could just open his jaw and activate the switch so for now he tells us yes by opening his jaw. Like Wade he is incredibly proud of being understood. He squeels and smiles great big when you recognize that he's saying yes. Communication is huge isn't it!!!


jocalyn said...

yay, wade! kendall started with raising her eye brows and a slight she's mastered it! we are still working on no. everything was yes for a long time, and no was "uh uh" and an arch! head shaking is so much more polite!

we all need to get together again soon. maybe next weekend or the weekend after that will work for everyone.

talk to you soon.

Jennifer said...

Laura--thanks for stopping by! And yes, communication is huge! It's the most important thing to me!

Jocalyn--I was going to email you and Holly this morning but ran out of time before I had to get Wade. Yes, we definitely need to set up a date!

Anonymous said...

Nodding is a great accomplishment! And back-up is an ever present need with any device, eh?

How about you, Jocalyn and Holly bring your families down to Morgan's Wonderland this spring? Would love to meet you and see them again.

Jennifer said...

Barbara--I'd love that! We visited Morgan's Wonderland last March, and I was in awe. Not everything was complete, so I'm excited to go back!

Kelly in TX said...

Yay, Wade! That's awesome! I celebrate with you!

Sandra said...

Simply awesome!!!

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