Friday, January 26, 2007

Words, words, words

There's been a word explosion at our house.

Words are everywhere. Bud's writing them. He's reading them. And, best of all, he's saying them - all over the place.

Bud spends a lot of time these days with his nose in a book. His favorite is one that Santa brought him - Arthur's First Sleepover, which comes with a CD of the story read by its author, Marc Brown. Bud listens to it every day, following the words as Brown reads them, turning the pages appropriately at the end of each line.

He's still watching TV and movies, of course, but these days he insists that I turn on the closed captioning while he watches ("Mama, can you get the words, please?"), so he can read along with the dialogue he's hearing.

And the talking - oh, the talking! We're still hearing plenty of scripts, but his spontaneous language is getting more sophisticated all the time. Bud has started using lots of words to offer up information about his day - what he ate for snack, the project he worked on in art class, who he played with at recess, which part of his day didn't go as well as he'd hoped it would. He uses words to share insight into his emotional state - "I miss Ms. Parker," or "That makes me angry!" He uses words to seek out information from us: "Hi, Daddy. How was your day?" or "What's so funny, Mama?" These days, our back-and-forth has been going back-and-forth-and-back-and-forth-and-back again repeatedly, as it did last night at bedtime:

"What happened at school today, Bud?"

"I was sad."

"Oh. What made you sad?"

"Ms. Parker was working with another friend."

"Which friend was she working with?"

"With Sophie."

"Well, that's her job, honey. Ms. Parker has to work with all the children."

"And then me."

"Yes, and then you."

"Okay. Tomorrow is school?"

"Yes, tomorrow is Friday. It's going to be very cold, so you'll be staying inside for winter activity day."

"I'll stay with Ms. Parker."

"Remember? Ms. Parker called and said she's sick so she can't go to school tomorrow. Ms. Jones will be with you."

"No, not with Ms. Jones. I can stay with Ms. Parker."

"Ms. Parker is sick, sweetie. She can't come to school. She has to rest."

Pause.

"I can take care of Ms. Parker. I can rest with him. I'll just hold her arm." (Yesterday, as Ms. Parker felt she might be coming down with something, she asked Bud not to hold her hand because she didn't want to transmit germs to him. He held her arm instead.)

"That's very nice, Bud. You are a good friend to Ms. Parker. Maybe you could make her a "Get Well Soon" card."

"At home?"

"Yes, at home, and we'll send it to her. But at school tomorrow, you'll be with Ms. Jones."

"And Ms. Jones will teach the kids?"

"Yes, she will."

"Okay."

He's also made huge strides in finding words to help us understand his needs, even when the words don't come to him readily. One night after he'd gotten into bed he called out to me in a somewhat panicked voice: "Mooooom! I need your heeeeelp!"

I went to his doorway and asked what was wrong, and he answered slowly, "It's - it's - it's tih-ing me!"

"It's what, honey?"

"Tih-ing me! It's TIH-ing me!" he paused, listening, so I paused and listened as well. Then I heard the click of the baseboard heaters kicking on as the chilly night swallowed the warmish day: tih - tih - tih - tih.

I explained that the noise was the heat coming on so that we would be warm all night and, satisfied, he rolled over and fell asleep. I wonder how a similar scenario might have played out a year ago, before he was able to find - to create - those words. I imagine that he would have called for me, but he would not have been able to tell me why he needed me. I would have thought he was restless and agitated and being difficult for no reason. I would have told him - probably too sternly - that it was time to sleep. He might have tried again, but ultimately he would have found himself in the dark, alone with his fears and anxieties as he listened to the mysterious, unexplained tih-tih-tih that seemed to be getting closer and closer.

Ouch.

The most exciting recent development, though, is that Bud's starting to be able to answer "why" questions. It's still an inconsistent skill. He has mastered the why/because question/answer format, but often his "because..." answer is not quite congruent with the "why" question that was asked. But sometimes - sometimes - he nails it. One night last week, he nailed it despite being in the middle of having himself a good cry.

He was overtired but fighting the idea of going to bed, and in protest he dumped water from his water bottle onto the floor. I handed him a towel and took his water bottle, explaining that he was done with it and could have it back in the morning. Much weeping and snuffling and melodrama ensued, and in the midst of it he threw his arms around my neck and exclaimed "But, Mama, I'm so SAD!"

I decided to go for it: "Why are you sad, Bud?"

"I'm sad because, because... I'm sad because I lost my favorite water bottle!" he wailed.

I consoled him, gave him a brief reminder of how the situation came to be, and assured him that the water bottle was not lost and would be returned to him in the morning. He sniffed and snuffed and tried to pull himself together, and I stayed somber and sympathetic on the outside. But on the inside, my heart was doing a big old dance of joy.

Why?

Because there's been a word explosion at our house - and it's rocking my world!

20 comments:

for what it's worth said...

That is worth a dance...inside and out! So dance like nobody's watchin'.
Congrats

kristina said...

Rocking words-----all glorious.

Mom without a manual said...

That is so awesome! I am tearing up just reading it.

Thanks for sharing your joys!

mcewen said...

I love it when the words start to come and it sounds as if you're being flooded! I wish we'd had similar 'real' sources of hope way back when. I just never thought such things were possible, or possible for us. There are lots of books around that tell us positive things, that if we just keep going...etc., but these kinds of tiny waterfalls help so much more.
Best wishes

Daisy said...

This is fantastic. Any day now he'll be telling you his favorite word is underwear!

kirsten said...

that is so exciting - i can't wait for another one at our house.

Mommyof3 said...

Isn't it beautiful to watch our little buds, well, blossom? :O)
Mommyof3

Mamaroo said...

Thanks Bud, for giving me hope that we too will one day experience our own word explosion at our house.

Carol said...

How fabulous. And thank you for sharing. I was smiling through the entire post.

KAL said...

This is just terrific! I love it, and am so happy for Bud and for you.

Joker The Lurcher said...

so many echoes - the plumbing being scary (my son was totally freaked out by plumbing noises to the point when he used to turn off the main stopcock at school when he went to the toilet and then forgot to turn it back on again and no-one would notice until they tried to make tea at break time), and the talking. your son sounds like he is far advanced of mine in the turn taking in conversations - my son has only recently at 12 started to ask what sort of day we had and so on.

it all falls into place in the end but they need to be taught explicitly rather than absorbing it all. i actually find that quite interesting now i have got used to it - it really points out what social interaction is all about when you start to disect it so you can teach it to someone.

Agent M said...

Rock on with your talking self, Bud!

Wonderful wonderful blog...and just the thing I need right now. I'll be back often. :)

kristen said...

That is so great. My son is 4 and a half and as I read your writings about Bud, I see my son in a year or so. We are just about at the point where I ask him a "why" question and he says, "because" but doesn't really have an answer yet. I get so much encouragement reading about Bud. I think my SP and Bud have a lot in common.

By the way, did you catch the Autism special episode on The View today?

MOM-NOS said...

Kristen, I didn't learn about The View special until I was already at work, but I'm hoping that I caught it through the magic of TiVo. (I have the TiVo set to tape anything with "autism" in the description, do as long as it was listed in the program guide I should have gotten it.)

Did you see it? What did you think?

kristen said...

You probably got it because its listed in the info feature on my TV. I thought they did a pretty good job. It was informative and included both positives and negatives. They interviewed KAREN SIFF EXHORN, the author of "The Autism Sourcebook" and her family. Also, they had a great interview with Dr. Temple Grandin which I was really excited about.

I enjoyed the program overall, but of course there were some things that bothered me. I will leave them out since I am curious to see what you think first. Don't want to taint your view of it. Let me know what you think.

MOM-NOS said...

Kristen, TiVo did catch it (because TiVo IS magic.) First of all, I have to say that Toni Braxton is amazing for being on the show just four months after her son's diagnosis. She was getting a lot of information all at once, which is overwhelming for anyone, but to get it in front of a national audience must have been that much more difficult.

Overall, I think they made an effort to be balanced and tried to fit a broad range of experience into a very short amount of time. Of course, my preference would be that they highlight things like RDI and SCERTS, since that's where I hang my hat, instead of just ABA. There was some wording that made me cringe, but all in all I think they showed a range of perspectives.

The thing that was most difficult for me personally was that for some of the segments the parents had their children with them, but they talked about them with the hosts as if they weren't sitting there. For me, it felt a little intrusive, and I kept wondering what the kids thought about what they were hearing. There was one set of parents at the end who talked to the hosts while their daughter was backstage, then invited her out at the end to give the hosts presents she had made for them. That felt a lot more comfortable to me.

That's my two cents!

kyra said...

that is SO WONDERFUL! i love that rockin dance!!!

i am so happy for you guys!!!!! YIPEE!!

kristen said...

I totally agree!! I felt the same way about the way they talked about the kids in front of them. Just because they are not verbal doesn't mean they don't hear and understand what is being said. For that matter, they did it to the kids who were verbal, too. I had a feeling you would feel the same way on that point.

As for Toni Braxton, I think she was amazing. You could see that she came on National TV ready to be strong and be the spokesperson and everything. But as the show went on she became "the mom" like us. Even the questions she asked of the guests you could see were for her own information.I cried the whole time I watched it (and not necessarily for "sad" reasons). I can't imagine how she held it together as well as she did.

Personally, I just think its great that they devoted a whole hour to the topic for the sake of awareness and everything. Of course, I think they could have done at least a week on it. I would have also loved to see them discuss other treatments and therapies. So much to cover I guess.

Glad you were able to catch it.

MOM-NOS said...

Kristen, did you get the sense that Rosie has a personal connection to autism in some way? She didn't say so, but she seemed very knowledgable and very familiar with the "lingo." She made reference to having read some of the books they mentioned, which made me remember that a long time ago she had Paul Collins's book Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism listed as a recommendation on her blog.

I don't know - I just got the sense that it went beyond "celebrity charity" for her. (She also seemed to be the driving force behind the one-hour special, since the other hosts only appeared briefly.)

kristen said...

I felt that way about Rosie, too! But the thing about her is that she is passionate about so many causes that it is tough to tell. And anything with children especially. But I have a feeling there is some connection. But these days, who doesn't have some connection to autism???