What Does it Mean?


crowd of protesters holding signs
Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

The need for discussions about the Black Lives Matter movement and racism is a very real and saddening sign of our times. How do you start this discussion? How do you discuss if remarks are racist or not? In the presence of higher-level language deficits in those with a non-verbal language disorder or social communication disorder, there may be a need for consideration. Helping them to differentiate if remarks are or are not will be important.

Middle school-aged youngsters through college-aged years will need special help for their own protection and well being. because of the fact that from a neurological standpoint. higher-level reasoning, problem-solving, and self-regulation of your own behavior is developing at this time. The baseline functioning of those with nonverbal language disorders (NVLD) or Social Communication Disorder (SCD) will already be below what is typical.

If you are talking about the movement and concept of racism with an individual who has been diagnosed with They may not perceive what has actually occurred if they feel that they have been a victim of racist remarks and behavior. Maybe it was and maybe not. I say this because, those diagnosed with NVLD display problems in understanding communication that is not verbal which includes body language, tone of voice, and facial expression.

For example, I recently had a discussion with a college-aged male adult of Mexican-American descent who felt he had been a victim of racism in an interaction with a healthcare professional. He was accused of being a “drug seeker” when asking for a narcotic that had previously been prescribed and found effective for him in alleviating pain on a short term basis. The stakes were higher now and he felt that he would need the same medication over a three or four week period to tolerate pain from a post-operative dental procedure. He had been told that it would heal within that time frame, but could not tolerate the pain. He could not work, sleep, and was in pain when eating, drinking, or breathing because of this. The healthcare provider hung on him, after hearing his request for the drug. He was left in a situation with no solution for pain relief. This may not have been an ideal way in which to end a discussion with a patient; but, there were lessons when actions spoke volumes. This man felt that his feelings were not validated, he had taken a risk in talking with the doctor – needed help and felt very badly that there was no satisfactory answer or solution to his problem at that time.

In processing this interaction through discussion, great insight was obtained. Regardless of his racial or ethnic background, he had not perceived why this professional may have expressed himself by referring to him as a “drug seeker”. The followings issues arose:

The fact that a narcotic taken over a month-long period could be highly addictive needed to be discussed.

Talking about the need to consider other options was not at that moment on his mind, but was really necessary.

We processed together how the tone of voice and behavior may have had a negative impact on the outcome of this discussion. After all – he had wanted only one thing, saying nothing else would work and essentially made a demand.

At the time that the surgical procedure had been performed was there another factor visually in terms of his appearance when he initially went for treatment. It made him stop and think. His hair was mid-back length, uncombed and he had old clothes on that were very worn out when he initially had met the doctor.

Wonderful that in our discussion, he was able to share really being shaken up by the fact that someone had perceived him and put a label on it “drug seeking”. He said in response, “That’s really bad..being a drug addict is a label that sticks with you and it is not a good thing”. He said that he “just want to feel better so I can sleep, eat and work without pain”.

The discussion was closed by asking him if he now thought that his initial interpretation of the doctor’s remark was truly racist. Something to think about….






Language Development and COVID19

The “new norm” of saying “Hello” and “Good-bye”

Language impaired children often have trouble interpreting facial expressions. Increasing numbers of states may be required that everyone except for those under the age of two wear masks. How will this affect social skills? Reading the emotions of others is so important to be able to communicate with each other

Language is changing in terms of interpretation of facial expressions – after all we are wearing masks hopefully more often than not at this time. Teaching emotions and interpreting them will change so please click on this link to learn some tips. A literal visual picture will be worth a thousand words! https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Wearing-Masks_Story.pdf

Learn about how to help your children interpret emotions underneath those masks

Helping Children Understand Emotions When Wearing Masks
Young children look for emotional cues from caregivers to help interpret the environment and rely on their caregiver’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture to identify and understand emotions. Here are tips and ideas for helping children identify emotions when your face, your most expressive feature, is covered by a mask. Use these strategies to let children know that behind the mask, a kind and warm expression is still there!

  1. Practice emotional expressions with a mask on in front of a mirror. Pay attention to facial cues that can be seen, body movements, and hand gestures.
  2. Incorporate ASL when teaching emotions
  3. Direct children to look at your eyebrows, eyes, body movements, and gestures when talking about emotions. For example, “Look, I am happy.
    You can’t see my mouth smile, but my cheeks lift up, my eyes crinkle, and my shoulders and arms look like this.”
  4. Increase the use of gestures throughout the day and when talking
    about emotions (e.g., shoulders shrugged for sad, arms out to indicate
    a happy mood).
  5. Talk about your feelings as much as possible (e.g., “I am feeling happy that it is almost time to go outside and play.”; “I am feeling sad that it is raining right now.”; “I am feeling excited that we have a new toy in centers today.”).
  6. If using an emotion check-in, encourage all adults in the classroom to participate and check-in when the children do (https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/FeelingFaces_chart_template.pdf).
  7. When talking about emotions, hold up the corresponding emotion card or visual near your face. Consider wearing a lanyard with a visual of an emotion expressions (e.g., tired, happy, excited, sad, angry, mad, nervous).
  8. Be sure to face children and remain nearby when talking to them while wearing a mask. Wearing a mask muffles the speaker’s speech, which can make it more difficult to understand what is said.
  9. Provide an activity for children to practice wearing a mask and making different faces while looking in a mirror or at each other. Point out how their face looks (e.g., eyes, eyebrows).
  10. Allow children to use masks during play with stuffed animals to help familiarize them with seeing masks in their environment.
  11. Reference: National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations | ChallengingBehavior.org
    The reproduction of this document is encouraged. Permission to copy is not required. If modified or used in another format, please cite original source. This is a product of the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations and was made possible by Cooperative Agreement #H326B170003 which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
    Pub: 06/26/20

Please keep the conversation going and post how you an your children are changing how you are interacting with others. How is language changing for your family???