No matter which season in life we find ourselves, we have a need to communicate. Infants communicate with their parents by crying when they are hungry, tired, wet or in pain. Parents sometimes can even distinguish the complaint by the type of cry. As babies grow a little older, they add gestures, facial cues, and body language to their communication tools. For example when she was a baby one of our grandchildren rubbed her eyes when she was sleepy, smiled when we talked to her, and reached for things that interested her. Babies’ babbling evolves into first words, then sentences, and later progresses to putting those sentences together into complete thoughts.
Watching communication develop throughout childhood can be equally fascinating as children begin to enhance and clarify those thoughts through the use of descriptive adverbs, adjectives, and logical sentence structure. Maturation of these basic skills during the teen years and adulthood makes it possible to further expand one’s contribution to the world. Communicating ideas, sharing information, and telling stories are just a few of the ways we can do this.
In addition to mastering the spoken word, we continue to add gestures, body language and facial expressions throughout life to either emphasize or even replace some of our spoken words. Did you ever stop to think about how many things we communicate to one another without saying a single word? A look, a handshake, a rolling of the eyes, can speak volumes without a single sound being uttered.
Interestingly enough, when something happens to alter someone’s communication abilities, such as an accident or suffering a stroke, that person may return to the beginning stages of language development. Unable to speak or to find the right word, he or she might use sounds, gestures or even another word relating to the one being sought. And reminiscent of the way parents of infants instinctively know their babies’ needs, those closest to that person often know what their loved one is trying to say.