I wanted to talk a little bit about what I call “special voice.”
Special voice is like nails on a chalk board to me.
Special voice is the in which many adults talk to Evie and her disabled/autistic peers.
Special voice is a weird combination of firm-nasty-baby voice.
It is often combined with over-prompting (which I wrote a little about here).
Let me give you an example.
Yesterday when I picked Evie up from her summer program, I had the opportunity to observe a little.
All of the kids were working on an art project. One of the paras said to her student, “Now! You are only going to pick one more color. Then you are going to get a pipe cleaner. And you are going to use your quiet voice.”
I get the importance of setting expectations for many kids. I do. However, art, in my opinion, should never be directed. This is one of the places that we can let kids do their own thing to a great extent.
It is totally unnecessary and tiresome to be prompted to this extent.
And the kid was being quiet. Why do we need to prompt a kid to continue to do what he is already doing?
And it isn’t just what was said. It is the special voice that she used.
I try to avoid baby talk–even to babies. But baby talking a 5/6/7 year old is just inappropriate. And condescending. It doesn’t matter if the child is disabled. Stop it.
And the tone of the baby talk in special voice is at odds baby talk. Using a voice that is ridden with something nasty. I can’t quite explain it. It is almost disgusted reprimand?
Preemptive reprimand? What is the point of that, even?
Autistic kids are routinely spoken to like this. Actually, I hear versions of special talk, spoken to all kids. And I think it sucks. Children are worthy of our respect. When we truly respect them as people, it is reflected in our actions and the way we speak to them.
Pretty simple–treat others how you would want to be treated.