Fran, Leftwing Idiot and I have just been at a training day on safeguarding disabled children. Part of it involved simulating a conversation with a child who has limited verbal communication.
The group was split into pairs, one person taking the role of the child and the other the adult. The trainer put a scenario up on a screen that the adult wasn’t allowed to look at – they then had to find out what’d happened to the ‘child’, who wasn’t allowed to speak or write.
All three of us did surprisingly well at being the adult – mainly because the necessary skill was very similar to what we have to do when I lose my speech during a ‘ticcing fit’. When that happens my friends or support workers use yes or no questions to try to find out which bit of me needs most urgent attention, and I answer by blinking: one blink for ‘Yes’, two for ‘No’.
It was interesting to be the one asking the yes or no questions rather than answering them. The message the ‘child’ had to communicate was that were upset because they’d lost their hamster in the park. When I got to the point where I was trying to find out what sort of pet had got lost, I found sticking to yes or no questions tricky and frustrating. This made me more appreciative of how my carers must feel when they’re urgently trying to establish what I need during a fit. I’ll try to be more understanding and patient from now on.
Shortly after the activity had finished I had a ticcing fit and Fran got to put her skills to the test again. We quickly left the room and found a quiet, more private space. One of the first questions Fran asked was if I’d lost my hamster. I’d like to have laughed, but unfortunately my body was far too locked up to let me.