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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fold the Sparkly Bracelet

One of the mysteries of Janey is her speech. I am always trying to figure out what makes it work and not work. She has never completely lost speech, although she came close after her big regression, where for months she only said "I want a baba". But her speech comes and goes. It is not on a steady upward path. There were times in the past when she talked a lot more than now, and times when she talked less. Lately, her usual speech is a request of 1-3 words. I'd say 80% of what she says starts with "I want a ...." or just plain the name of what she wants---"Kipper", "Chocolate Bunny", "Ketchup". Then there's the echolalia, which is long, long sentences from her vidoes, which sometimes relate to what is going on. The other day, after a severe diaper incident, she said "I'm terribly, terribly sorry". A line from Angelina Ballerina, but I didn't mind it.

One thing I've been noticing a lot lately is her inability to retrieve the right words. When she wants to say something that she doesn't have in her mind as a script, she very often doesn't know the words to use, and substitutes others. A few recent examples----I put ponytails in her hair, which she has decided she doesn't like. She started pulling at the elastics and screaming, and then looked at me and said "Bracelet! Bracelet!" I figured out she meant elastic---and that she probably got the name from seeing me sometimes put them around my wrist before putting them on her or on me. Creative, but it would confuse people who didn't get the reference. Then, that same day later, I told her we could get a donut after school. She was excited. I asked her what kind she wanted, chocolate or plain, and she said "Sparkly!" I knew what she meant---one with sprinkles. I actually loved that! We went and I got her a strawberry frosted with sprinkles, and the look on her face was priceless. She seemed so thrilled to be understood. It made me a little sad thinking of all the things she can't explain that she wants. The next day, we were in the bathroom and the window there was open a bit, which she doesn't like at all. She pointed to it and said "Fold! Fold!" which I figured out meant "Close it!" But why fold, which seems like a less common word to me than close? I don't know. Today, in the same situation, she said "Turn it off!" I said "You want me to CLOSE IT?" saying the close and it in a long way, to emphasize them, but that doesn't seem to be how she learns words. Just now, as I was writing this, she came over and said "Take off the bracelet", this time meaning a clip that was in her hair. Maybe bracelet just means any adornment? I think linguists could have a lot of fun trying to figure out just how the language section of her brain works.

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