This Talk Ain’t Cheap (#401)

“Chahwee! Ee point to you annn you staaand up! Ee point toyou annnn you staaaand up!”

Charlie said that, grinning and laughing, as he was getting ready to “takea hot showah.” He said his own name—“Chahwee!”—a bit more gravely and commandingly, and I wondered if he might be repeating a phrase from school, where he started to participate in a small language group last week and in opening group this week. Group directions, responding to greetings correctly (Charlie is more likely still to say “hi Charlie” back to the person who has just said “hi Charlie”), speaking in full sentences: These are all skills that he has been learning (along with, I surmise, “Charlie! We point to you and you stand up!”).
Some posts back, Christine noted that Charlie seems to have been making some gains in his language in the past few months, and I do think he has. His new school program emphasizes language throughout the schoolday and incorporates the use of a Language Master along with activity schedules. Throughout his school day, Charlie goes to a book with pictures of his classmates and teachers and instructors and various activities, has to take out a card and run it through the Language Master, find the person or do the activity, and talk.

And it seems to be having a good effect on him. Charlie has been trying out new words and sounds, repeating what we say to him with increasing clarity and ease, and generally using more language at every juncture. Instead of just specifying what food he wants—“whiterice” (not that he has been eating as much of that of late)—a whole other flood of words accompany his requests: “Mommy!” “Eat, eat, eat. I want eat.” “Food.” “Wunssch.” “Eat rice, want cook rice.” “Mommy!” “Need sumpin. Neeeeed.”

Needless to say, I ordered a Language Master last week. It will not be the solution to Charlie’s communication challenges; it may well create new challenges. It is a way to help Charlie to “use his words” more, without us constantly offering verbal or pictorial prompts. It is most of all Charlie’s teachers and therapists who have taught him to use this new device, and to like and love learning, that is behind all the language we have been hearing. What the Language Master offers are auditory prompts—Charlie knows he is to repeat the phrase he hears—and Charlie has always been a musical boy with a strong auditory memory.

“What can I do to help with his talking?” Grandpa asked me tonight. Charlie was working on an old puzzle of Snoopy, Woodstock, and Woodstock’s cousins. I mentioned the usual: Ask simple, straightforward questions to Charlie about his daily activities. Don’t expect a fast reply. Go heavy on the praise.

Wait and listen.

Talk in our house is never, ever, cheap, and words are worth a thousand times their face value.

5 Responses to “This Talk Ain’t Cheap (#401)”
  1. Anonymous says:

    As I said before Kristina your Charlie is soooo gorgeous. The little fella is a credit to you!!

  2. KATHY says:

    Sorry Kris … That was me!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I completely understand – words and the comprehension of those words is a precious thing at our house. Even at 12 years old, it is like Christmas when Chris uses new words and clearly understands what he is reading…he struggles so much with reading comprehension. He has a difficult time turning off whatever is going on in his head so that he can not only read the words audibly, but also understand what he is reading.

  4. KC'sMommy says:

    “Need sumpin. Neeeeed.” Your Charlie is absolutely adorable! He sounds like he is doing beautifully with his language and his new school is really great. Grandpa sounds like a super guy.
    How is Grandma doing?

  5. Charlie has a similar difficulty “switching” on and off between the language he hears and the language he is trying to say—-and then there’s the motor-planning involved in speaking.

    I used to say (when Charlie was a baby) he’s me as a boy…….. (my husband is fair and blue-eyed).

    Grandma is doing great, thank you for asking! She should be coming home in 2 weeks or so.

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