It's rare Janey starts saying anything new. Most of her phrases and words have been with her for years. When she uses a word or phrase we haven't heard before, it's generally something she heard in a song or on a TV show, and it's not usually used in context. But the last month or so, we are hearing her say "I need help" all the time.
I'm pretty sure she learned the "I need help" phrase at school. We've all asked her at home if she needs help, but that would generally translate to her saying "Do you need help?", not using the first person.
It's great to hear her ask for help! The other day, I was turned the other direction and she said it, and I said "What do you need help with?" and she said "I want my cheese!" I turned around and she had the cheese block we always have on hand in her hands. It was an actual conversation, something very rare with Janey, and wonderful to have.
However, as is often the case with Janey, she has started over-generalizing the phrase. Like "please", she is using it hoping it's literally a magic thing to say. If it's the middle of the night and we say she can't watch TV, she says "I need help! TV on!" although she's quite capable of turning on the TV herself, and she's asking for permission, not help. If we say no to anything, her new first answer is often "I need help!" It's better than a scream, but a scream comes next if it doesn't work.
I've read about overgeneralizing in speech. It's a common phase for toddlers to go through, at around age 2. It makes sense. Janey in most ways operates about like a 2 year old. But lately, I am seeing signs of her slow progression to new stages. One big thing I've been noticing is her experimenting with the world around her in ways I haven't seen before. We got pool noodle type things to put along the edges of her bed, because we kept banging our shins on it. She took one off, and then used it above her head to try to touch the ceiling. We have very high ceilings, and she didn't quite succeed, but it was the kind of play I've almost never seen her do. A few days ago, she reached over and rolled down the car window (yes, we still have old style windows in the car!) I had no idea she even knew how to do that, or that if she did, she would be motivated enough to try it. It's not a great thing to have her doing, as she has several times tossed things out open car windows, but it was cool to see!
I get excited about Janey's progress. I think it can be easy to lose that excitement that we would normally feel about a child doing new things when the child in question is getting ever closer to no longer really being a child. As the years go on, though, I do very little comparing of Janey to "normal". She is on a whole separate path. Part of the not comparing is because if I did compare, I would probably fall into despair. That's what can happen sometimes when I read news or magazine articles that talk about a child with "delays" or with "significant cognitive problems" or so on, and then read about what that child can do and think "THAT'S a delay? I don't even know WHAT they would call Janey's abilities!" But the other part of it is learning to delight in Janey as she is, to rejoice in every "I need help" or reach for the ceiling or rolled down window. Tony and I have said so many times this summer that if we could have seen how Janey is doing lately as compared to a few years ago, we'd be very happy, and as I knock frantically on wood, I will close with that.