Friday, November 30, 2012

Speech – III/Tools - II

In “Laugh Like a…” and “Gortles vs. Vocal Fry” I began to write about the Full Spectrum of speech expressed by my children and our family approaches to some of our challenges in that realm. These include, on the one hand, exceptional sassiness or dorkiness of oral interaction styles and, on the other, widely disparate levels of verbal agility.

Here are two more topics to consider: repetition and volume.

G and Z loooove to repeat. Single words, questions, quotations, astute observations, not-so-astute observations, random sounds…all are fodder for extensive repetition. This shared habit is rooted in two very different sources: G’s mind seems to get drawn into a pattern - he’ll blurt out a word or phrase from time to time, sometimes for days, as the neural impulse strikes; Z likes uninterrupted attention, which speech can bring, but she also self-soothes – and learns --with patter.

We use the same tool inclusive of these two distinct contexts. Since it works well in our household, it just might work in a wide range of families. I therefore offer:

A Good Rule for Parents and People:
1.     The One Time Rule
Things may only be said ONE TIME.  If something is repeated, Mama – often in cahoots with the currently non-repeating child – may utter the powerful phrase, “One Time Rule”…as many times as is necessary.
a.     The Awesome [or insert your dreadful trending word here] Rule
Each child may utter the word “awesome” ONE TIME per diem.
For some reason, this has worked. Good thing, because we have yet to work out the Consequences.

Partly because of low tone, G also has issues with volume modulation. More specifically, he speaks very, very loudly, especially when excited (and he’s an enthusiastic guy). His speech volume is probably the single biggest obstacle to other kids’ acceptance and comfort in his presence.

When we are together as a family, I might say, “Stop shouting in my ear,” “Turn it Down, please,” or “I am RIGHT HERE.” I don’t want to humiliate him in public, though, so we have devised a sort of turning-down-a-radio-dial type motion that is meant to indicate to him that he needs to try to modulate his voice to a quieter level.

Alas, unless he is looking right at my finger, he doesn’t notice this signal! My gesture, then, gets bigger and bigger, progressing initially to something resembling the “cuckoo” finger swirl and then evolving, as it widens, into a one-handed version of Jazz Hands.

In contrast, and no, I am not making this up just to, as it were, fill my proverbial Spectrum, Z has issues with speaking at LOW volume. Specifically, she prefers to speak At All Times, and so, if she has been asked to be quiet, she simply speaks much, much more quietly, typically in a very special language of her very own. This brings us to:

2.  The No Poltergeist Voices Rule
If your attachment disordered, or otherwise anxiously garrulous, or perhaps even happily loquacious child has not stopped speaking in approximately seven hours (years) and if he or she insists upon whispering “ZI-guh-sa-ba ZI-guh-sa-ba” over and over near your ear while you are on the phone for Three Minutes after Paying Attention to her or him the Entire Day (or some similar situation), simply invoke the No Poltergeist Voices Rule.

This might work.

Jazz Hands!

Full Spectrum Mama


  1. I came to your blog after reading your comment on Offbeat Families and i think it's wonderful. I don't have any kids at all, but I'm studying to be a SEN assistant teacher in the UK and I found it very very interesting (as someone with no previous knowledge of attachment disorders and very little of Asperger's, to be honest). It got me investigating a little bit, I read the wikipedia article on attachment therapies and found it scary, wonder if you've had any experience with this rebirth-catharsis stuff? But it does make sense that parents that deal with very challenging behaviour are willing to try anything that will make their adopted/foster kids feel SAFE.

    I just wanted to let you know that I'm very happy that there are parents like you out there, I would like to be a teacher just the way you are a mother. Thank you for writing this blog (I read it all, I seriously found it very enlightening).

    1. Dear Mutz,
      Thank you for your very kind words. I hope I am worthy of them sometimes ;)
      We have spent the last year and a half learning about attachment disorders and in what seems like fairly standard (but very helpful) therapy for it. But yes, we will take it further if necessary...sometimes attachment disorders are scary enough in themselves. Luckily, we are making progress.
      It sounds like you will be a wonderful teacher! Keep in touch,


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