Quick to listen?

The speech therapist at Schreiber gave me the results of her evaluation. “This must be a mistake,” I thought. “Instead of a percentile of .2, it must be a 2 or a 20.” But it wasn’t. In Matthew’s receptive language, in a group of 100 children his age, 99.8 kids are better at hearing and understanding.

On the other hand, he is much better at expressive language. He can tell us what he is thinking or letting us know what he wants to know. Usually those statement begin with “I want…” or “What’s next…” or “What’s for dinner?” In fact, he is so good at this, that we hear these expressions constantly and endlessly.

All the above helps me understand why I can get frustrated so often in a day. I almost always need to say things more than once. And if I hear one more “I want…” I think I’m going to go crazy. Or, if I must tell him one more time that, “I don’t know what’s for dinner. Mom is the one makes dinner…” that too could be enough to send me to the funny farm.

This receptive language deficit also helps explain why my role as teacher is so challenging for me. Here is the essence of it: With a lack of receptive language, it is very difficult to learn. And, if a student doesn’t understand the question, chances are good that he won’t give the correct answer.

A couple takeaways to all this:

1. If I am to survive teaching my child anything new, I must slow it down and make sure he hears and understand what I’m telling him. By the way, the effort is worth it. If he gets it, he really gets it! When that happens it really does seem that he is super smart – in the words of Matthew, “I’m a genius!”

2. The truth is that I myself am much better at expressive language than I am at receptive language. It isn’t just Matthew. I too am more naturally skilled at telling you how I feel than I am at hearing how you are doing. I’m much better at telling you what I’d like you to do than I am at hearing what you want me to do. I need to figure out how to overcome or compensate for this weakness.

Maybe most of us are this way – better at expressing than receiving – perhaps the reason James said, “EVERYONE should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” (1:21) I think I’d better read that a few more times. Perhaps then it will start to sink in.

Thanks for taking time to “listen” to my expressions of things I’m learning here in the “homeland.”


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