Saturday, February 9, 2013

Use Your Words

It's been said that language is what separates us from the animals. Mere communication isn't enough, there must be language development. After all, human infant communicate by crying, and later on with gestures. But it isn't until they begin to use language purposefully that they are considered properly "evolved."

For non-verbal individuals, such as Little A, language development is considered retarded. I can't say I agree entirely. My child doesn't speak, but he does communicate, and works hard at it, too.

Ever since, at about age 2.5, when I discovered quite by accident that he could read, we've been encouraging Little A to spell out things with letter tiles. He types much faster than even his father does, adeptly finding out what he wants to view on youTube by spelling things phoenetically or from memory. I catch him in the car, as we are driving to school, looking carefully at the building names, and then later spelling out at home "ChinaBank," "ToastBox," "StarbucksCoffee" or "DeutscheBank" with no prompting or help whatsoever.

These days, his therapists are advocating magnetic words, as Little A's receptive language is astounding, and it takes too long to spell each word of several phrases out letter by letter.

As the photos indicate, he's gone from words to phrases to sentences. We now have over a dozen alphabet sets combined, as he still does like spelling things out letter by letter, as he enjoys forming the words. He's even grasping the nuances of the language - more on that later. Most importantly, he doesn't simply parrot back what he sees. He adds his own little bits of humour at times - "Humpty Dumpty great fall oh no."

Almost daily, I catch him spelling at least one new phrase I've never seen before. He answers questions as well, with minimal prompting, and always initiates activities using his word cards. At the height of the bullying at school, he would spell out on the classroom floor, "No More Clapping" and "I want to go to the bookstore."

So we are not entirely giving up on his speech emerging, but for now are actively working on developing this alternative method of communication to become more efficient, as this is the best way he can be tested as to how much he knows. And really, he does know rather a lot.

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