Updated: Dec 30, 2020
You know that time when you learned something new and felt as if your mind had just exploded?! That was my experience today as I was completing a Math assignment with my son. Because I know that he has auditory sensitivities, I remain cognizant of that in all environments that we go to. At one point, there were certain restaurants that we could not go to because the noise levels tended to be really loud with jovial conversations, game-watching cheers, and other background noises. This has improved, but we still have preference places based on volume.
I have also learned that my son has perfect pitch and can distinguish musical notes played on a piano (even two and three notes played together!) That’s another story about how I found that out. Stay tuned…
So, back to today. As we were completing a Math lesson, I started playing around with him to keep him engaged and enjoying the lesson. There were tickles used as reinforcement for appropriate responses, me making funny faces and giving high fives – the works. Somewhere in this “teach-play”, I started whispering. I asked the next question in a whisper. He smiled and answered, appropriately with the correct answer and with no response delay. I said to him (still in a whisper), “You like when I talk to you like this?” Again, with no response delay he responded, “Yeah.” So, that’s what I did for the remainder of the Math Lesson and for the History Lesson as well. AMAZING! He was engaged the entire time, answered questions quickly and correctly. He responded to my questions and even followed instructions that required him to get up and move things around on his visual schedule.
So, what is the difference, you ask? The difference is the response time and the accuracy and appropriateness of the response. Usually when I ask a questions, I may need to repeat it or wait for a few seconds before he responds. It’s like the difference between dial-up and high speed internet. Processing speed is much faster with a whisper! So, I will be trying this over the next few days, just to see how it goes. As a researcher and behaviorist, my first thought is to actually time his latency (the time from presentation of the stimulus, my question or instruction, to the time of his response.) I could record average latency when I speak regular and then again when I speak in whispers. Actually, I think I’ll do that. Let me go make a data sheet. What fun!
Okay, back to Mind Blown… I am amazed by him every day. I am always learning something. To be totally honest, he’s always teaching me something, either about himself or about myself. As parents, let’s take time to quietly listen to our children’s nonverbal cues. They tell us a lot without saying a word.
Update Results of Data Collection:
Response latency was timed with an iPhone stopwatch in seconds. Within a five minute interval six responses were timed using a regular voice and six were timed using a whisper. The results indicated that, on average, he responded 7 seconds faster when spoken to in a whisper (14.64 sec.) versus spoken to in a regular voice (21.65 sec.). Again, Mind Blown!