Whisper is the name of a character in a popular children’s cartoon here. I have a sticker of Whisper on my name tag and the kids always point to him in delight when they see it. That picture helps me communicate with them. If I know Whisper, I must be fun.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you first transgress a language barrier with a child. I’ve had many such experiences here. One that stands out was with a child who would not have been able to speak with me even if we both spoke the same language. He had severe cerebral palsy, was nonverbal and was in a wheelchair with limited mobility. We had taken him out of his chair earlier in the day and brought him into a sensory room with black lights and music–a form of therapy that is often used with patients who could benefit from some sensory stimulation.
While in there I laid down on the floor next to him and noticed his connection to the music that was playing in the background. Any upbeat music that involved high-pitched noises such as Hi-Ho or other cheery Disney songs always got him so excited.
So later on in the day I sat next to him and started to whistle. I’m not the best whistler but right away I got a response. He loved it. I will never forget the smile on his face or the happy noises he was making. That was a great moment for me.
Whether through a Whisper or a whistle, there are always ways to build connections with children.