"You say you want to take my socks on, please"
Janey said that to me last night, as she was falling asleep. It's a pretty typical line from her, but for some reason I thought about it a lot as I too fell asleep. It has a lot of the elements of her language in it---a lot of what I'd like to figure out about her.
"You say" -- Janey has started using that at the beginning of a lot of utterances. It's a little piece of echolalia, from people telling her what to say. For example, when she's screaming her head off, we might say "You say 'I feel sad!'" Or if she's supposed to say hi to someone, "You say 'Hi, Maryellen!'" Mr. Ken, Janey's ABA specialist, has worked on that, by just having us say what we want her to say without the instruction---if we want her to say hi to someone, WE say hi to that person, and then kind of gesture to Janey to follow. He's very good at getting that to work---me, not as much. But sometimes it's hard to implement. When Janey is crying and I say "I feel sad!", it's understandable if she sees that as a statement about myself (and usually I AM sad, if she is) Whatever the reasons, I think Janey has decided that "You say" is a handy way to start a sentence.
"You want" --- And there's the classic pronoun reversal! I've read that it's very, very common in autism, and very hard to find a way to stop. One place I read said they really don't understand how typical kids DON'T reverse their pronouns. How do they learn that when someone says "I", they are talking about themselves, and that it's not just a way to refer to that person? If Janey is asked "Do you want bacon?", it seems to make sense for her to say "You want bacon" to mean "I want bacon". Janey doesn't always reverse her pronouns, and it seems a little random when she does and doesn't. But she often does, and I have no idea how to work on that.
"to take my socks on" --- That's Janey's other reversal, and not one I've heard is part of autism. She says the opposite of what she wants a lot of times. She wanted her socks OFF, so she says to take them ON. That's a rare thing I remember from her pre-autism speech. When she was two or so, she always said "Pick me down!" when she wanted to be picked up. It's like she takes the state she's in, that she doesn't want to be in, and says that. So we get "buckle me out!" when she wants her seat belt on, "put the TV off!" when she wants it on, "Turn off the light!" when she wants it on, and "Put on my pull-up!" when she wants it off. It would be harder to figure out if it was not usually evident what she really means, but I still wish I could figure out how to have her clarify those statements.
"please" -- Now there's a nice one. Janey has gotten wonderful at saying please. Most everything she says is a request, so please usually fits in there someplace. She's even learned how to say it in a pleasing way, in a very sweet voice. However, like everything with her, there's a catch. We sometimes call please the magic word, and she believes that literally, I think. If you say "please" nicely, anything can happen! There can suddenly be bacon when there wasn't any bacon in the house before, we can go for a ride in the car at 3 am instead of sleeping, I can stop my foolish insistence on brushing hair if she asks nicely enough---it's a magical word indeed! Her use of please is also delayed echolalia at work. She's heard it enough, so it automatically gets put in there.
I love it that Janey can talk. A lot of kids with her level of autism and intellectual disability can't, and there was a time right after her regression, for a few months, when we thought she was losing all speech. Her speech, however, is deceptive. Almost all of it is like the example here---a pieced together and echolalia filled and odd way to make a request. But I'll take it. I know I am lucky to be able to hear her voice.