Lately I have been reading a lot of articles on how alternative communication systems are making a difference for children with different disabilities. Using tablets, voice overs or computers directed with any body part are increasing chances for many children to have contact with their surroundings. They turn into active persons in their own lifes.
This was sci-fi years ago, and since it has become a reality, a big question turns up in my head quite often. How dependant are we on verbal speech? Everybody knows that body language makes 93% of human language. New techonologies adds new opportunities to increase our communication reppertoire, making life easier for parents to understand children’s needs, desires and dreams. Giving children without verbal speech the possibility to participate more active in decision-making process at school, home or with their friends. This is absolutely positive and will hopefully soon make a difference also in workplaces and public services.
But do we give too much weight to verbal speech? It seems to me that we forget this 93% of our communication. Our bodies show much of what we feel and think, though in many cases this is not so easy to controll. I have worked with multihandicapped children who did not have the possibility to express themselves verbally. But this is exactly what I found enriching. The chance to explore body language going back to basics in order of understanding and communicating with another person.
Body language is what we use the first years of our lifes. Is when most babies bonds with their parents, sivilians or other caregivers without words. We make it happen, we have to find each other in a basic level to survive, to develope. I bet you don’t forget easily the first eye contact, smiles, tears or a kid pushing her food away. Maybe there was no big conversation, but there was a lot of commmunication going on.
In these high tech times that opens doors of possibilities, I think we should not forget that all that matters is the moment when we can understand each other without saying a word. This is reason why sometimes the thought of overrated verbal speech strikes me hard because I know we can communicate in many other ways when we are willing to.
Why is it that we do not have organized programs to learn body language? I could think that this could be a useful tool for daycare and primary school teachers to include a larger numbers of students in their classes and as an introduction of basics in alternative communication systems. Statistics speaks by themselves, we all use body language. Let’s be aware of that.