Sumpin Diff’ent (#399)

Charlie said that when he woke up on Sunday morning—-remembering Jim and me saying to him on Saturday night, “you’ve got to try something different!”
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Yes, a boy can eat too many French fries—–though, given the past week’s rash of throwing food occurrences, I guess Charlie himself has a hard time accepting that statement. I can understand his confusion in wondering, how can something that used to be such a great thing, not be now?

Charlie’s verbally requesting things that he then rejects (and I use that word with its Latin roots in mind, re meaning “back, again” and the -ject part of the word from the Latin for throw, iacere) has also made me reflect upon how I have become programmed to respond to his every utterance. Charlie would never have talked had he not done intensive ABA and loads of speech therapy (especially from one ABA-trained speech therapist, in the early days). He was not a child who lost language, as he never really had any to lose. Charlie could “talk” at the age of three because said speech therapist taught him to use sign language and approximations of words (“ip” for “chip,” “uh-uh” for “cracker”). One past consultant had shaken his head at teaching Charlie to say these approximations (which were all that Charlie could say at that time—he lacked the oral-motor skills to say the /p/ and /k/ sounds); this consultant told us that, if Charlie had to wait till he was 18 years old to say “encyclopedia,” he was to wait till he was 18 years to say encyclopedia, or Charlie would never say “encyclopedia” correctly. And, quite in contrast to said consultant’s predication, Charlie has been able to shape his pronunciation of “chip,” “cracker,” and even “encyclopedia” (not that Charlie has any need of using an “encycl’peedya” in this age of Google).

As a result of Charlie’s severe speech disability, I jump at his slightest word. He says “I want frennz fries” and I’m all wowed over and ready to get what he has asked for.

But now, it is “sumpin diff’ent”—“sumpin elssz”—-Charlie is asking for. And so he and I ate “g’een sa-ladds” together, peas and tofu one bite at a time for Charlie (he gave me back the arugula).
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And so we skipped swimming at the pool and took the train to New York to meet Jim. Charlie and I had to wait some twenty minutes for a delayed train; we had talked about the trip in advance but Charlie was very anxious. I had brought his picture schedule and he hunched over it, studying the photos—train, city with Dad, black car, Grandpa’s house—as intently as the young jewel-bedecked woman was staring at her Powerbook and PalmPilot and the scruffy young man beside her was reading a beat-up paperback. The clattering trains and the inferno-esque temperatures on subway platforms did not bother Charlie one iota, so long as Jim and I responded quickly to Charlie’s statement of “Grandpa.”

“Yes, we’re going to Grandpa’s house after we walk around a bit.”

“Gramma!”

“Grand-ppah.” (Charlie still mixes up the /m/ and /p/ sounds when they are in the middle of a word.)

“Grandpa.”

You can do something different, but some things need to stay the same.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Sumpin Diff’ent (#399)”
  1. Meg says:

    Oh the trials of new foods, at least he will eat tofu and peas! How do they survive for so long on the same 3 foods? I like you, will give in to Fin’s requests if they involve self advocating. I believe that if you respond to the request, they will know that using their voice works.

    Fin did lose his language for about 8 months, we were lucky it come back.

  2. Ashley says:

    OMG that is just so adorable! Love the Gramma and Sumpin Different! Charlie is just the best.

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