Anatomy of a Conversation

Recently on the site I have to help friends and family keep up with Zack’s progress, I reported that his speech therapist said he’s at 60% functional language with gestures, writing and tech support (i.e. autofill on a smart phone). Several people texted and emailed to ask what 60% is. Good question. I pondered it and then last night when we were facetiming with his little (well, younger. she’s quite a bit taller than me!) sister, I had that kind of out of body experience where you see yourself and your life from someone else’s perspective. So here’s a snippet of our conversation:

Abby: I heard you wanna check out the food trucks in Los Angeles. How did your trip come about?

Zack nods in agreement about the food trucks, says Fun, and reaches for his phone so I tilt the ipad toward his phone but you know how that doesn’t translate very well. So I narrated a little: He’s on yelp. He’s searching. He’s typing … m…u. Oh museum. Zack wants to go to the Getty Museum but I don’t think the twins will want to do that so we’ll go before or after they’re there.

Abby: But why are you going now?

Zack flips through some screens on his phone til he gets to the calendar and swipes up until he gets to November.

me: Oh, my birthday. really? we were going to go there for my birthday? But it was the week before your whole family was coming for Thanksgiving and I had to take time off anyway. That wouldn’t have worked.

Zack: No no no. Eyes rolling b/c I have, yet again, inserted my own commentary into his story. His idea for my birthday was to spend a weekend in LA because we were unable to vacation in Hawaii. Like other great ideas that Zack has had over the past 20 years, I hijacked it and blew it up. His weekend in LA in Nov has turned into a very long weekend in LA in March with his older sister and her oldest daughters (the twins).

Spontaneous speech + practiced speech + gestures/facial expressions + technology = an aphasic guy who also has apraxia successfully engaging in a conversation

All of us experience communication breakdowns or failures all together. The past 10 months have taught me to slow down, listen actively (it’s soo hard) and listen quietly (even harder). Honestly, I’m still working on it all. But I see how much progress can be achieved with a lot of struggle and lots more success. Growth mindset is alive and well in our house.

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