By Sanjana Seshadri:The differences in communication between people can be challenging but I believe that they are very possible to overcome. For example, there are many many forms of daily communication that exist. What is truly amazing are how those with speech difficulties so effectively express themselves using all those other forms. I have realized that we do not solely communicate with words and sentences, we show emotion on our faces and express ourselves with our body language and with our hands. This is the way we break down the barriers that exist between different people. With a sense of awareness and empathy, we can learn to communicate in the same way as those with limited language can. With patience and an open mind, we can help those who struggle with speech and guide them to express themselves.It’s truly remarkable how much we can learn from those who may lack language skills. Quite often they perceive their surroundings with incredible astuteness. An example is a young lady that I tutor named Grace. She is quite clever despite having limited language. After four years of working with her, it still thrills me every week to see her constantly improving her speaking abilities. I have learned to communicate with her on many levels, using motions with my hands, my voice intonation and the written word. I help her read books, correcting her when she may mispronounce words and reinforcing positive speech patterns. It has been a rewarding challenge to learn new ways of communicating that differ from mine. I think it has expanded my thinking while also making me realize that the differences between us are not so great after all.
Sanjana Seshadri is a GraceSigns volunteer, high school senior, part-time academic tutor and is college-bound to Cornell University in the fall. She shares her insights here in this guest blog.