The Roc has been surprising me lately with the stuff that comes out of his mouth. His imagination is slowly, slowly, slowly emerging and sometimes he sounds just like a…a…kid.
Echoalic speech is still sometimes present but usually it’s used appropriately. As in, he will repeat something, but in the right context. For example, at the end of the preschool year his teacher just had to tell me about overhearing him conversing with another student at the sensory table. The other child said something to which the Roc replied “that’s not funny, and I KNOW funny” and then they continued. She said that she and the para were just giggling at this exchange. What she didn’t know was that it is a line from Finding Nemo, the movie of that particular month! Another example was when he told his Great Aunt Sandy in Colorado “that’s a good observation” when she was talking to him about the brownies they were making. She was astounded by this little comment from him and I told her that I say that to him a lot, and she pointed out that he totally used it correctly even though he was repeating me. This new version of echoalia is such a step above the past when he would burst into the bathroom and spew lines from the Little Einsteins cartoon before barreling away. That used to be his way of conversing with me. Not anymore.
Beyond the echoalia and scripted speech we are starting to have little conversations with the Roc. This is HUGE. I waited a long time to hear “Mommy” and it now seems to be his favorite word. I waited for yes/no questions to be answered and cheered when he finally got it. I patiently waited for the pronoun reversal to right itself, and now I cannot even remember when it happened, sometime in the last 6 months I’m sure. Lately I’ve been itching to converse with the Roc, for him to say something other than yes, no, or good when I ask him a question, for him to talk to me, really talk to me. And now it’s starting. We are having little conversations and I am learning so much more about him as his ability to express himself grows. I was thrilled with the following exchange last Friday as we sat at the table eating dinner, just the two of us.
me: “Tomorrow is the weekend Roc.”
the Roc: “I already went to school today.”
me: “Yup, no school tomorrow. Tomorrow is Saturday. The weekend. No school on the weekends right buddy?”
the Roc: “I did a picture that looks like a friend.”
me: “Oh? at school?”
the Roc totally looking me in the face and seeing my confusion: “Mommy doesn’t understand what I am saying.”
me silently gasping at this announcement: “I don’t. Can you explain it again?”
the Roc: “Yes. I did a picture that looks like a friend at school.”
me: “Oh! Did you draw or color a picture that looks like a friend at school?”
the Roc: “Yes, and I was supposed to cut on the red line but I cut right through her. I didn’t do a good job. I knew better than that.”
the Roc: “I just got two at once! Look Mommy!” (two pastas on his fork at once.)
me: “Very good.”
the Roc: “I can try again next time I go to school. I didn’t do a good job.”
me: “That’s right, you can try again. Your teacher says you’ve been doing good in school though!”
the Roc: “I ate it all!!” (completely cleaned out his plate of pasta)
me: “Do you want more?”
the Roc: “Mrs. Mommy, can you get me more?”
me: “Of course!” I got up to get him more pasta and he jumped around the kitchen describing what I was doing.
It was a simple, quick conversation and he was easily distracted but I was floored that he spontaneously offered up some information about his day – he wanted to share something with me, and that he read my facial expression/tone of voice to know that I didn’t know what he was talking about! Lately I’ve watched him struggle with finding the words in his brain to describe what he is trying to tell me. I can see the wheels turning in there and see the frustration this causes him. It has made me realize that he has known and understood much more than I gave him credit for.
I’ve waited so long and I won’t take for granted the effort it took to get here or how many people I know who would give anything, anything to have a simple, quick conversation like I had with my son.
These are the things that keep me in check when I’m running out of patience.