There’s days where I’m not quite sure what’s going through the Monster’s head. As I’ve mentioned previously, he’s very good with literal use of language, with descriptive phrases about his environment or his immediate needs. The part where we get frustrated – one of the places where he needs a lot of improvement and where speech therapy can hopefully do some good sooner rather than later – is when it’s narrative.
Language has always been one of the stumbling blocks. When we were midway through his 2’s, we were having problems related to his using one-word phrases at most to describe moods and wants – it made it very hard to deal with him without his getting upset. What little sign language we could get through with him wasn’t having any effect of improving his communication. PIEs, as I mentioned, did a lot of good with twice-weekly speech therapy to get him to the point that he now uses canned phrases which he improvises on so he can express himself.
Since the end of his speech therapy in May, as predicted by his speech therapist (because getting alternative services in absence of ESY has been taking a while – we won’t, in fact, have them before he starts his special summer camp in two weeks), we’ve noticed regression in his verbal skills. I’m frequently getting phrases like, “Can I have small, please?” or “brown!” in lieu of something more meaningful. As far as I can figure, “Can I have small” is his asking for a small, normal-style cup of juice (as opposed to ‘juice box’, which is his straw cup or a literal juice box), and “brown” is “brownie”. The latter, we only figured out because my wife heard him asking for “cook” instead of “cookie”.
But none of this tells us what he does and doesn’t really recall. The Monster’s never had a good grasp on tense in his language – he tends to stick to the present active tense for when he’s interacting with his environment.
Saturday, though, I had to run some errands, and to give the wife a break (so she could rest and spend some solo time with the baby), I took the Monster with me. For the most part, errands went fine and he behaved, albeit with the bribe of allowing him to have a brownie if he behaved for the two stops I had to make. On our way back, I swung through a shopping plaza near our house to check in on Foursquare at the Starbucks because of their offer to donate $1 per check-in between the 1st and 10th to (RED) Rush to Zero. It was when we were leaving that shopping plaza that he started to act up.
Monster: That way!
Me: What way?
Monster: THAT WAY!! *pointing behind with both hands over his car seat*
And then it dawned on me. I’ve taken him to Starbucks there perhaps thrice in the last year for a treat – usually a brownie – when we’re out on boys’-time. He has enough recall of it to remember that a) he’d been promised a brownie, b) that Starbucks is in the plaza, and c) that Starbucks == brownie. We’ve had circumstances before where he’s shown awareness of historical patterns, but usually on ques – recognizing that he’s at school or home, leading us through the school to his classroom, telling us who he sees at school… but it was nice to see him having a more expanded awareness of where he was and what he expected to happen.
(And no, I didn’t buy him another brownie.)
On a very positive note, while we were walking to the classroom this morning when I dropped him off for pre-school, another of his classmates came up to him to say hello. Rather than ignoring the little boy, he actually turned, made decent eye contact, and said hello back. It’s progress.