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Friday, August 31, 2012

First time saying "towel"

Janey has always called towels "scarves". If she's in the bath and wants to get out, she says "You want a scarf!" The two have similarities, I guess, as they both get wrapped around you and keep you warm, but it seems like she's encountered towels much more in her life than scarves, and it always is interesting to me to try to figure out how she picks what word to use. Today, though, when she wanted to get out of the bath, she said "We'll get a towel, to wipe your nose" A lot about that is typical of Janey's speech. She often, but not always, reverses pronouns, a very common trait in autistic speech. She usually speaks in phrases, which often are echoed from ones she has heard once or twice. I can't imagine when we used a towel to wipe her nose, and it's a little gross to think of, but we must have said that. And I'm thinking she often gives a reason in the second part of the sentence, which I realize I usually do, and she's probably copying from me. I try to kind of "add value" to much of what I say to her, to give her more words to use. For example, I'll say "Let's get on your coat, to get ready for school" or "Put on your shoes, so we can go in the car" So in saying towel for the first time I can remember, Janey either copied a phrase she heard at some point, or created her own sentence using a set structure. If no-one had ever talked about wiping their nose in connection with towels, that's kind of more interesting. She might not have been able to think of how to describe what towels do---dry me off? Warm me up? but she could think of what PAPER towels sometimes serve to do in our house, as we don't usually buy tissues. She hasn't said paper towels either, but the word is the same.

The language part of Janey fascinates me. It's very unlike typical language. It seems like the language part of her brain just doesn't work in a typical way, and she has to use other skills to create language. She is extremely good at remembering exact words of songs, and I feel like she uses that for language---"Let me pull up a time I heard the word I want to say, and use that lyric to make them understand" And the fact that after all these years, she used "towel" for the first time makes me hopeful she is still progressing in vocabulary. I wish I knew better how to use Janey's strengths to help her do so.

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