Monday, February 13, 2017



by Laura O'Grady

The spirit of Valentine’s Day is upon us, and it puts the concept of “love” in the forefront of our minds. It is a time to consider the different types of love we have and share with others; love for a parent, child, spouse, pet, sibling, cousin, friend, etc. These different types of love are all uniquely different and equally as powerful.

Just as there are many different kids of love, there are even more ways to show love. Children have their Valentine’s parties at school, and teens and adults go on their date nights. Parents give their children chocolates and children give their parents cards. Spouses give each other flowers and take time out of heir busy lives to say “I Love You!” It’s a small holiday that reminds everyone of all the love that there is in the world.
Many of us want to hear the traditional, “I Love You," but for some, speaking those words is a challenge. Fortunately, there are infinite ways to say and show love, we just have to look for them. We can use sign language (pictured above) to show love, or the pop culture gesture of cupping your two hands together in a heart shape. For some, showing love is moving close to another or leaning their head on someone’s shoulder, touching someone’s arm, or making extended eye contact. Children might show love by sharing a preferred toy, or giving away artwork. A simple smile, a kiss on the cheek, a touch on the arm that is not part of the usual routine, are all expressions of love. These are all ways to show that we care, and ways to know that we are loved. This month, take some time to notice the non-verbal actions you give and receive from others. You will likely be impressed with the love that is given and received every day!

Our guest blogger is Laura O’Grady, a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist in California.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Communication Bridges Our Differences

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.