Posts tagged ‘speech delay’
C has incredible debate and discussion skills that fluctuate between charming and irritating. He has the ability to drone on, asking question after question, that renders the person to whom the questions are directed completely foggy. “Yes.” “No.” “I don’t know,” I’ll say, and realize after 30 minutes of questions that I’ve zoned off into la-la land and I’ve completely tuned him out. Too much of our interaction is simply meaningless drivel because he’s assaulting me with lists of questions and I’ve ended up in this place where I’m a zombie and it doesn’t really matter what I say as long as I say something. This is hard for me to admit, as it brings to mind a parenting style I don’t wish to emulate.
Granted, he is a curious child, but I see through this barrage of questions, and see his need to constantly connect with the people around him. He’s simply trying to engage, in whatever way possible, with the person on his radar screen. His way of engagement is battering one with questions, often ones asked a zillion times before, but perhaps in a slightly different way. While this curiosity is a positive trait in a child with an autism spectrum disorder, I see it for more than simple curiosity – it’s perseverative. Yet I think to myself it will make him a dynamite litigator someday.
This rapid-fire questioning is coupled with a truly frustrating habit, which includes his coming up with another idea for anything I ask him to do. “C, please pick up those building blocks and put them away,” I’ll say. His response? “But I have another idea, Mommy.” This is followed by some other suggestion about building with those blocks, Mommy putting away those blocks, or throwing those blocks out the window. “But I have another idea” has become my least favorite sentence in his vocabulary. It doesn’t matter if the task is something he wants to complete or not, boring or fun, interesting or mundane. He always has another suggestion. And looking on the bright side, I tell myself it’s good he’s asserting his independence.
We waited many years for C to talk. I wouldn’t take back his words for anything, and I know how lucky we are to hear his voice. Yet in the same nanosecond of thought about how lucky we are to hear his voice, I admit to the occasional fantasy of joining a silent convent simply for a little peace and quiet.
When something happens, good or bad, C often tells me the story in bits and pieces, sometimes over a period of days. Because his perception of events is often different than other people’s, he sometimes doesn’t tell me what I need to know in order to fully understand the situation and help him process it. I’ve grown better at asking the right questions to get to the bottom of something while still allowing his telling of the story to be in his way.
The other day at school, a boy in C’s class called him a “loser.” The interesting piece of the story here is that C was running to get a ball at the time, and he got it. He took the word “loser” so literally as to mean he lost the race to get the ball. His point was that he DID get the ball, so he was a “winner.” He was upset, not because the boy meant something far more all-encompassing than C’s understanding of the word, but because the boy was technically wrong.
I was so thankful in that moment that he doesn’t comprehend the connotations of the word. I was so grateful that he sees things in black and white so he didn’t understand how awful and powerful a word it can be. For him it’s about the definition, not the nuance. Yet someday he will understand that word, and all its negative undertones. For that, I fear, he is sorely under-prepared (aren’t we all?). I can only hope when I told him that he is in fact a winner, it, like the other positive things we try to say to him whenever possible, settled into his psyche enough to help counteract some of what will surely come down the road.
C spoke his first word two weeks before his second birthday. He said “more.” We expected additional words to come quickly, but it took another painful year before he added more than a few words. Then, when he was 3 1/2, his language exploded and all of a sudden he had tons of words. Like many children with autism, he repeated phrases and sentences he had heard elsewhere (echolalia). He often used the phrases and sentences in the appropriate situations, but they were all parroted back to us in exactly the way they had previously been spoken by someone else. That someone else was either a family member, a tv commercial, or a cartoon character. It really was quite amazing that he used the words in the correct social situation, which led people to believe he had more language than he did. He never said anything spontaneously, and there were certainly no back and forth conversations.
I remember his first “creative” conversation vividly. We were in Target, and I was buying wrapping paper for his upcoming fourth birthday. I was talking my way through the store in the way I usually did with him – constantly trying to engage him in a real conversation. I told him the birthday paper was for wrapping all of his birthday presents. He was silent for a few moments before he looked through the tube of paper and said, “But Mommy, there’s no presents in there!” I was stunned, and walked around the rest of the store in gleeful, tearful oblivion.