Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Art of Conversation

Most kids learn to converse along with learning to speak;  it's just a part of the natural progression.  I didn't realize how much I took that ability for granted.

It hasn't worked that way for The Captain.  Whatever the reason for speech delay -- and it does appear to be a delay now rather than an impairment -- his ability to converse was somehow put on hold.  He has not been inventive in speech, relying on rote phrases, many of which he repeated in the same voice in which it was used. 

At school and at home, we speak slowly and over enunciate to make sure he hears each word.  It lends a robotic quality to the speech.  He quite often said things in that voice, making me realize it was yet another memorized snippet of speech.  In fact, when we first met, he had 3 words/word-sets:  "backpack, backpack," "boots," and "oh, man."  I saw this as really hopeful -- until several weeks later in a weak moment I turned on Dora the Explorer and discovered his entire vocabulary was from that show!

So . . . recently I mentioned that The Captain had a huge burst in his facility with language over the holidays.  The most amazing improvement came in his ability to innovate and his ability to converse.  Today he said, "Mom, how was your day?"  I told him about taking his sister to the dentist and then he proceeded to tell me about his day.  He used several sentences and kept making eye contact throughout. I was spellbound.  Later, I heard him talking to Maggie about the dentist and asking several questions. 

The best story, though, was his first day back at school.  They share "news" in school and the teachers try to ask them "who, what, why, where" questions to get them talking.   Of course he said Santa came.  Then he said that Bennie went to the hospital while he and Maggie stayed home.  True.  So Ms. Rose said, "Why did Bennie go to the hospital?"  He said "He broke his arm and got a thing on it." (Amazing use of past tense here.) She said, "How did he break his arm?"  (She knew he hadn't.)  He said, "He fell off the climbing toy." 

This inventiveness is a wonderful sign.  I asked him later why he said Bennie broke his arm and he said, "Bennie go to hospital.  I not know why so I say, 'He break his arm."'  So clever.

I am so grateful for this little soul who keeps reminding me how truly miraculous we humans are.  They learn so very much and they do it so very fast.  It is humbling, indeed.

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