I thought I would try to write down everything Janey said in my presence today, to illustrate what her talking is really like, and to save for myself to see if it changes over time. I'm not sure I got everything, but I got a good sample. I'll divide it into types...
Asking for things---
"I want Baby Einstein"
"I want Cat in the Hat"
"I want The Kangaroo Hop" (a song on a Pooh video)
"I want straw box. YES!" (she sometimes adds on the yes to illustrate how I should answer)
"Disney Sing-A-Long" (she leaves out the I Want a lot too)
"Toothbrush! I want Toothbrush!"
"I want go see Pino" (Pino is her uncle that lives upstairs)
Delayed echolalia----(most all of this was on the way home from school in the car, and most of these lines were from The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That, a current favorite.)
"With no chance of relief"
"It's me, the Cat in the Hat!"
"We just need an idea"
"I can't hear ANYTHING"
"Not MY kind of food"
"I can hear the bats" (this one was after an ambulance went by, and at first I thought it was in reference to that, but then she said it about 40 more times on the way home)
"Looking for rabbit droppings" (I have no idea where this one came from!)
Lines she has learned, but used properly
"I don't like it" (this was in the hall in the morning at school, when it was loud. I told one of her teachers that she said this, and they told me it was something they had worked on yesterday, saying that when she didn't like something. I was happy with that one)
"I'm proud of you" (when I said that, because I was proud she said "I don't like it"!)
"Do you want cheese?"
"You are being pretty silly"
"Hippity hop out of the car"
(these are all right after I said the same thing, repeated back in the same tone)
Maybe original speech
"The disk is white" (this was interesting---she asked for Disney Sing-a-long, which I put on, but then said that, and brought me a Baby Einstein disk, which was indeed white. It's pretty rare for her to say something like that)
Overall, a pretty good representative sampling of how she talks. Mostly, she asks for food or videos, or repeats lines from books, videos, things we say, etc. The Cat in the Hat things she said on the way home were all said many, many times during the 25 minute drive, and always in the same tone and with the same emphasis. I was encouraged by the "I don't like it" and "The disk is white" today. I'm struck by how very little she says, if any, passes along information or asks for information. Or asks for anything abstract, although she does often say "I want snuggle in Mama's bed" when she's upset.
I never know how to reply to the delayed echolalia. Should I ignore it, as it's not really useful speech? Should I say it back to her? Should I act like it's a serious comment or question? I do that a lot, like when she said "I can't hear ANYTHING!", I say "Is it too noisy in here? Are the sounds too quiet? Why can't you hear?" as if I thought she was really commenting on her hearing---just to try (in vain) to spark conversation. Or should I try to figure out why she's saying that particular thing at that particular time, and work with that, as when she said "I can hear the bats"? I think that was originally sparked by the odd sounding ambulance, which was making an odd hollow sound---maybe it sounded like the bats did on her show. I asked her that "Did something make you think about bats and how they sound?" but of course got no reply. I get a little frustrated with the endless phrases, because I don't know what the best way to respond is, how to work on turning them into useful speech.
I do know how lucky I am that Janey talks at all, and I am very, very grateful for that. I know other girls with autism function overall at a lot higher level than her, and don't speak, and I keep that in mind every time I hear her voice.