Sunday, June 17, 2007

Where Do the Words Go?

Lately I've been wondering about B's words. They come and go, and often when a word goes, it seems to be for good. I think he peaked last December, when he had maybe ten words that he would occasionally say. At that point, he could also fill in words in songs (sometimes), which he does not do at all right now.

I don't want to be depressing. We are getting back to a stage of having a few words. "Cookie" came into favor for a while, and got his ABA therapist very worked up. It seems to have faded out again, although the ABA therapist says that he can say it, so we should expect him to. He also said "brush" for a few days after getting a new toothbrush which he loves.

I remember reading The Siege, by Clara Claiborne Park, long before I had kids, and even before I started teaching kids with autism. I remember being fascinated by her story. One thing that stuck with me was that her daughter would learn a new word, say it all the time, then move on to a different word. I can't remember how long that lasted, but she did eventually speak in sentences, and as an adult talks well. She's an artist now.

I disagree with our ABA teacher about thinking that B. "can" say the words, if he wants to. I think they are in there, but he can't necessarily retrieve them at will. But her techniques are so gentle, and rely so much on having fun with him, I'm okay with having some philosophical differences. One great result of her working with us is finding out that I should ignore tantrums (I should have known that, but I always end up either in conversations with J., or trying to comfort G.) So the last time J. tantrumed, which as always caused G. to plug his ears and have his own tantrum, I went over and looked at a book with B. It was great, and the tantrums probably did end quicker than usual.


KAL said...

So much of your experience with B reminds me of ours with John. I tend to think like you - the words are definitely in there, but it's not an easy thing, the retrieval of them. And the tantrums? Ignoring them? I couldn't believe I waited until someone gave me permission to ignore them before I did!I'm glad you like your ABA therapist, it sounds like she's very enthusiastic. :)

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

Gabe had the same issue with language when he was 1 to 2 years old. I remember him saying car for months, just to have the word disappear along with others. He knew what a car was, but again the word didn't come back until well after he was two years old. Now, he is able to speak in sentences, uses expressive language and new words and phrases are happening every day. Speech therapy and his ABA therapists really helped with him having to use his language to get something reinforcing, ie a toy.

Something will happen soon. I'm wondering if it is a stage that certain children with Autism go through?


Melanie said...

We have the same experience around here. Bobby gets a new word or skill, uses it absolutely to death, and then will NOT do it any more - no matter what the bribe/incentive might be. For example, he could kick a soccer ball up and down the hall at a very early age, and now won't do it even though his physical abilities have not declined. Unfortunately, potty training seems to be in the same category. He was dry for two weeks, was proud of it, and then was DONE with being dry or being near the potty *maternal sob*.