Teghan was less than a year old when she said her first sentences. They were, “I read a book” and “go bye bye in the car?” It was cute the way she kind of stuttered whenever she said “in the.” Then one day she just stopped saying those things.
Sometimes I wonder why she ever did say those things. I mean, she didn’t even say “mama” or “dada” until very recently. She said a few words- like “shoe.” Then she didn’t. By the time she was three years old, we didn’t really think she would ever talk.
She is five now, and her vocabulary has improved. She knows what most things around her are called, and when asked she will make an effort at verbally labeling things. Some words are clearer than others. My husband takes pictures of everything on his phone and quizzes her. It’s interesting to see what words she cannot pronounce (which are most).
Spending time with Teghan, one would be surprised at just how much vocabulary she understands. Her receptive language is far beyond her expressive language. But even so, it remains fairly basic. She understands instruction, but we are a long way from conversational concepts, consequences, or reasoning. She is getting better at determining our meaning with instruction, though. She now knows that when we ask her to open a door or turn on a light that we may be talking about a different door or light than she is used to. She is now willing to change that routine a bit, and follow more specific direction; which means that if we ask her to turn on the light in the living room, she (maybe) won’t run upstairs to turn on the hall light instead. Nothing is obvious to her; it’s just about what she has done before, so watching her work that out is encouraging.
At school she won’t talk at all. They use a communication board, which she seems to do well with. We recently discovered that she recognizes several words in print, and that is exciting. If you write her name, she knows what it says. On her communication board she has to pick out the parts of a sentence. For example, she must choose the icon that says “I want” and place it on the board before the icon with the picture of her desired item. At home she will complete the sentence verbally. If she wants something, we can say “I want….” and she will complete the sentence.
Recently she has been quite successful at pairing words. When she wants her shoe off, she will say, “shoe off.” It’s a step in the right direction. The next logical step is getting her to say that whole sentence- which is hard, since she is determined to just fill in the blanks. But we did have one moment of success. My husband got her (just once) to say “I want coffee, please.” It’s kind of like the one time we got her to say “people” instead of “eeple” or “cookie” instead of “pickey.” It hasn’t stuck quite yet, but I think it will eventually.
And yes, my kid spends a good portion of her day begging for coffee.
So that’s where we are at with language right now. It is slow improvement, but it is also continuous improvement- and we are grateful. I am hopeful that she will one day have basic communication skills, and I haven’t always felt as if it that were even possible. It’s strange how different our dreams are for our children. Right now, I am excited for the possibilities, and I know that some of you completely understand.