The Color of Language

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…..”

I sing the song to her while she softly rocks back and forth in the chair.

She doesn’t speak, but often expresses herself by pulling her hair, and screaming.

This is how she wakes up.  

I  don’t know her history, why she’s come to live here, or if she has any family, but I do know that if I sing to her while I’m trying to get her to do whatever it is I need her to do, she stops pulling her hair, and she doesn’t scream.

I’m singing, and putting her socks on when the door pops open and another employee stands there.

“Sometimes you just have to get hateful  with them to get them to do what you want”

“And sometimes you don’t” I reply to her, with the overwhelming urge to smack her in her self righteous face.

“I don’t know why you don’t just tell her to sit her ass down and do what you want”

“Because singing to her doesn’t stress her out.  We’re fine here, you can go”

She knows she’s pissed me off, and she shuts the door.

Kayla has gone back to trying to get up, pulling her hair, and her moaning has increased and gotten louder.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray…..”

I sing the song over and over again.

She has quit fighting with me to sit down, quit pulling her hair, and is softly rocking back and forth as I start putting on her shoes.

Then I hear it.

She’s humming with me.

“You’ll never know just, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away…”

I stop for a moment, and she stops humming.

“You are my sunshine…”

I hear her start humming again.

It’s not the exact tune I’m singing, but she’s trying to hum with me.

She’s barely rocking now, and both hands have quit moving.  

No hair pulling, no moaning, no screaming.  

Just the soft humming of a non verbal child trying to make a connection with the music.

I get her other shoe on and tied, and I smile at her.

“We’re done Kayla, are you ready for breakfast?”

She smiles.  Something I’ve never seen her do.

She starts to softly hum again.

We’ve had a “non verbal” conversation.

My heart is happy.

It’s the best conversation I’ve had all night 🙂


3 thoughts on “The Color of Language”

  1. Can I just say how awesome and amazing you are. I love reading about your interactions with your patients.

    I’ve had one grandparent pass from Parkinson’s with dementia, one from Alzheimer’s, and one from Parkinson’s (no dementia). I’m in my early 30’s and my arms jerk and twitch. I also experience phantom smells and food I once loved tastes gross. I know what this might mean. I’m terrified of my possible future and yes, I’m avoiding a dx. If this is my fate… I’d rather not know. I’m scared to be dumped off into a facility where I’ll be treated like a burden. If more care providers were like you, maybe I’d have an easier time facing reality.

  2. This started my day with a smile and a huge amount of perspective. I am mom to a boy with ADD. Most days are wonderful. Some days I feel like screaming – but I know that will not help the situation one bit. If anything it will make the situation much worse. Thank you for this reminder. And thank you for being a caregiver to a challenging population of people who need more love and understanding than most.

  3. My daughter teaches a class of special needs children. Some of them are non-verbal.
    When they learn how to do something, no matter how simple, she is thrilled. It makes it all worthwhile. She is so patient, like you. Keep up the good work!

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