Over the years I have heard different versions and statistics on the overall comparison of how many words women speak in a day, relative to their male counter parts.  

Some studies claim that women use as many as 20,000 a day where as men use closer to 7,000.  While the numbers are vastly different it seems that environment also impacts who is speaking, and how often.  There is an abundance of fun research to delve into with a quick internet search if you are at all curious.

Mercifully, our Son Zach has been able to develop his language skills with intense therapudic modalities over his lifetime.  Although he can’t always say what he needs or how he is feeling, he is pretty good about being adamant to make his point, even if it takes the rest of us a while to come around to understanding him.

For example, a statement like “My leg hurts” could mean, his leg hurts.  It could also means he has a hang nail.  Also, it might mean he is trying to engage in conversation and those are the words he uses, since he can’t really say “Hey Mom what’s up?!”

Another example of Zach’s clunky but effective verbal communication style the way he asks for music to be turned louder or softer.  Zach will say “Turn it up” when he means turn it down, and down when he wants it louder.

Usually within a few moments of asking him some questions, we are able to get to the heart of what he is trying to share.  Once in a while we will also ask each other “Do you know what Zach is trying to say?”  I always feel terrible when I don’t understand him, since he is trying so hard.  The worst is when he gives up before we can crack the code.  When that happens I just get close to him and say, “I am so sorry Zach I know you are trying to tell me something, don’t give up.” 

But he sometimes does give up.  Like I said, that is the worst.

Over the holidays, we took a road trip to the warmer weather.  Zach’s Dad was driving and I was in the back seat of our SUV sitting next to Zach.  As with most road trips, there were snacks, and chargers, electronics galore, cords, headphones, and ear buds and a radar detector.  There was lots going on in that 2014 SUV.  

About 10 hours into the drive, as I sat behind the driver’s seat, and Zach sat behind the passenger seat I noticed that Zach was contently looking out the window watching for big trucks and motorcycles (his favorite.)  The seen was pretty calm and I closed my eyes for the first time since we’d hit the road early that morning.

As I listened to whatever sounds were in the car, letting them blend in to create a busy but consistent background buzz, I started to deeply relax.  I don’t think I was sleeping but I was definitely “in my own world” as I allowed myself to surrender to the need for rest, even if just for a moment.

At some point, eyes still closed, I distantly heard Zach saying “Hot.”  He said it again, “Hot…Hot…HOT!!!” He spoke with increased conviction, exaggerating the hard “T” sound at the end of the word, as I came out of my relaxed state.  “What is it Zach?”  I may have even felt a bit like “Hey, I’m chillin over here, just give me a few minutes.”  But he didn’t relent.

What’s hot Zach, what are you trying to say?” I asked with frustration and borderline annoyance.

Just then when I looked at the digital headphones that were plugged into the charger in the back seat, I saw smoke coming out of them.  Zach pointed as he repeated again: “HOT!  HOT!” Accentuating the “T” sound at the end.

I’ve never seen smoking headphones before but these were nearly ablaze.  I unplugged them from the charger and burned my hand doing so.  They continued to smoke long after unplugging them.  For a moment I fantasized that they would cool off and work again.  Denial.

Shortly thereafter we located the nearest store and pulled off the highway to replace them.  It was a long day for sure by the time we hit our destination at around 10pm that night.

Whether we speak as female, male, prodigy or child, the take away for me was that we don’t always need to spit a lot of words out to be heard.  Sometimes less is more.  Zach may not speak as eloquently as some of his counterparts, but when push comes to shove, he gets the job done.


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