Updated: May 2
Communication disorders are defined as "an impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems (ASHA, 2021). In behavior analytic terms, communication is referred to as "verbal behavior," and consists of a social interaction between a speaker and a listener. The speaker's verbal or nonverbal communication behaviors (operationally defined in the graphic top right) are reinforced by the listener's response(s) and he/she gains access to control within their environment. Presented with, a full scientific breakdown of the systematic processes of communication and it still seems like we often miss the mark. Miscommunicated words, thoughts, and actions fall on deaf ears to a listener with unmet needs. "You might be talking, but I'm not listening" sound familiar to anyone? It seems like in today's society, we'd rather make money talk in the retail stores than on counseling & therapy. Despite, high talk therapy success rates at 64% of individuals experiencing symptoms of relief following recurring counseling sessions, quality relationships are jeopardized by unspoken words. An avid church goer may think "the fall of man," (shameless plug for our previous blogpost) is responsible for the great difficulties in communication that occur between women and men, but Dr. Myles Munroe suggests that 'God created men and women to think, act, and respond differently.'
If you haven't read the original creation story as told in the Book of Genesis, click the link here to check it out ... offering my own brief version of the story... God created the sun, the moon, and stars and set them for signs and for seasons, or rather He created an experimental setting for which to arrange his human subjects (Adam and Eve). Developing Adam first, God provided instructions for how to live, what to eat, and of course, what to work on; the earth. After Adam successfully paired all of the animals together, giving each one a name according to God's instruction (v. 20), the Lord examined the first man's environment and decided it was time to introduce a woman. The story goes, Eve was refashioned from Adam's rib, thus God created an improved design to increase the number of people on this earth. The woman was created as man's equal and taken from his rib to serve beside him. God would never tolerate a man uprising over a woman in any form of abuse, verbal or otherwise. The destructive behavior patterns that occur in male and female relationships today is a direct result of misunderstandings in communication.
The American Speech Language & Hearing Association (ASHA) reports that about 5 to 10% of the U.S. population is impacted by a communication disorder (ASHA, 2021). With so great a difference in number of individuals not specifically impaired in the ability to receive and/or process information -marital relationships are still declining at 50% and children are being born 1 in 54 with autism spectrum disorders: a condition characterized by challenges with social skills. So what's the catch do we all have deficits in communication? Should we all be in counseling? I guess the easy answer is .... YES! At some point in your life, your words may fail you. Body language and gestures may become your only formal communication, if you decide to respond at all. In the era of "ghosting," the pining question asked and answered by theologian, Dr. Myles Munroe in his book: Understanding The Purpose and Power of a Woman "how do you live harmoniously with someone who is different from you?" ... He says, the answer is "to understand the purposes and designs of females and males that influence their communication styles." The book is written on the premise that if men and women better understood their meaning for existence (purpose) it could drastically change the way we speak, think, and respond to each other.
Although we all have different and most preferred communication styles, it is ultimately the responsibility of both men and women to behave in such a way that communicates regard and respect for human differences. Learn to listen, operationally defined as the absence of words and full attending to what the speaker is communicating, and adjust your communication style to a method you know they will receive. An individual with autism may not suffer from an overall lack of cognitive understanding, but an inability to communicate using "verbal behavior." He or she may use written communication (pen & paper) or visual communication to express his or her thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Knowing this, a simply strategy like offering someone who is having trouble with words a piece of pen & paper, will further the relationship and can motivate the speaker to communicate more frequently. In honor of autism awareness month, we'd like to celebrate the differences between men & women across neurodevelopment types and generalize the perspective of communication disorders as something that at some point in our lives impacts us all. As a result of misunderstandings, we forfeit good relationships and miss the opportunities for growth that come from extending empathy to someone. If you, our someone you know has been diagnosed with a communication disorder and require behavioral support services Swarthy Lion Ltd. Co. is excited to announce we are preparing to meet your needs! (Shhhhhhhh.... More details to come soon) ... As the folks over at Autism Speaks would say, spread kindness! Check out their #kindnesscounts challenge and promote autism awareness today!
Want a suggestion for your next read? Check out: Understanding The Purpose and Power of Woman by Dr. Myles Munroe. Not excluding you fellas, you can also read this book to hep you better understand us or check out: Understanding The Purpose and Power of Men by Dr. Myles Munroe. Highly recommend folks, don't forget to leave us a comment below and let us know what you think!
Written By: Sindy Victor, MS, BCBA, LBA