,Over the last few weeks, I've had a few frustrating situations related to explaining Deep Root Center and self-directed learning that, when looked at closer, were all closely linked to communication issues.
My neurodivergence offers a quandary - I don't always process verbal instructions or conversation easily or quickly (when the speaker has an accent or speech impediment, it is even more difficult). I have to check back to make sure I heard not only the words correctly but the tone as well.
I also do not always comprehend written communication as it is intended - whether it is reading the words in the wrong order, totally misreading a word (replacing with a similar one or one that begins with the same letter), trying to understand a message that has missing or misspelled words, getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount on a page (long paragraphs and pages chock full of text kill me), or again misinterpreting the tone.
There are a few hacks that I rely on to process information in most situations to minimize confusion. In my case, slowing down and taking time to ask questions, with a conscious effort, in the moment - and then using multiple modalities when there isn't a sense of immediacy is how I survive - a little bit of everything usually gets the intended message through.
To add to the list of difficulties, when engaged in face-to-face or phone conversations, besides the processing issue, I stumble over my words, get distracted, have trouble recalling a term, or simply can't remember what I was going to say because my brain is always going six times faster than my mouth can get the words out. And because of all the above, getting interrupted shuts me down - completely.
My personal experiences are why I try to state things in multiple ways, using different modalities so that other people with processing difficulties (or who speak English as their non-native language) will find a version they understand.
I am a writer. I am most comfortable and can clearly express myself when sitting in front of my laptop in a quiet space with plenty of time to play with words and get my thoughts into a cohesive, understandable form. Therefore, it will always be my first choice when my message is important.
Phone conversations are a necessary part of what I do (speaking with families interested in our services or talking with kiddos to get info to write their learning plans). I need to be in a quiet space where I won't be interrupted and can have my speakerphone on. Even then, I have to clarify frequently. Sometimes, it takes me a while after hanging up to process and fully comprehend what they said, and often realize that I forgot an important point.
This is why I wrote the pamphlet to explain the process of home-schooling and self-directed learning. Trying to describe how DRC works with in-depth examples of what self-directed learning looks like - several times a day - when folks don't fully understand is beyond exhausting. I needed something for them to refer back to after the initial conversation.
In the near future, I plan to also create a video version for those who have difficulty digesting the written form. Again, in keeping with the multi-modality theme.
Even though I find them tiring - I would never want to miss out on our daily conversations at the Center. They are all important, a few are casual observations, some deadly serious, and others are supremely hilarious - we learn multitudes from each other every day and laugh a lot in the process.
The topics are endless and all based on what these kiddos are into - at the moment. I am simply one more participant in some of these conversations. When I do chime in, the kids have become familiar enough with my speech style - stumbling, interrupting myself to clarify, losing track of what I was saying…, they usually understand my point. But if they don't, they are comfortable asking what I mean. As am I when I don't quite get what they are saying.
There is something to be said for building a cozy, safe environment where asking for clarification and offering support are the norm. And where it is recognized that none of us are dumb or stupid - we all have (or are working on) a variety of methods to understand the world around us.
It is acknowledged, even within that comforting, supportive space - feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from struggling to process the world, so it makes sense, is most definitely a thing. Sometimes, a long hug is a perfect remedy - other times, some of us require a few days of quiet and solitude to recover, reflect, and plan our next creative adventure.
Which is exactly what I will be doing this long, snowy weekend.
May you find the time and space to do the same.
Huge shouts of thanks to Paul Hetzler a long-time friend and former DRC Board member for donating 10 copies of his latest book to DRC for a fundraiser.
If you have been wanting to expand your Paul Hetzler library or generally appreciate Paul's hilariously told nature-based tales, a copy can be yours for $20/ea. There are 7 copies available - thanks to the folks who responded to our social media post.
All proceeds directly benefit DRC kiddos. Find the payment link here.
What to Expect
The crews at both Centers had plenty of exploits this past week.
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