I think I’ve spoken on more than one occasion about how one of our biggest problems with the Monster and Autism is his verbal ability. Specifically – he’s very good at communicating his needs at times, and then he’s atrocious at others.
It does come and go, usually without warning. There are times where he makes excellent, lucid observations of the world around him. We were at a rest stop recently, on our one-day trip to visit with my family for my nieces’ third birthday, and there were some birds wheeling and circling overhead. The Monster looked up at them for a moment, and very happily announced to his mother and I that, “I see seagulls.” (Which they were. Stupid birds always mistake big parking lots for water.) He spent part of yesterday talking about how seagulls have feathers, and that crocodiles swim in the water.
On other days, there’s not quite so much good two-way communication. We got him up this morning so that he could take a shower before school – indeed, not quite one of his favorite things, though how much he hates it comes and goes – and got into an endless loop of “Mommy! Um!” No clue, whatsoever, what ‘UM’ meant this morning, since he wouldn’t give us context. He then spent the entire time before the school bus came mostly communicating in one or two word snippets – “Off!” “No!” “Yes!” “No potty!” – and not all of those snippets necessarily had to relate to what was going on around him. For instance, he kept insisting on “off!” while I was putting his shoes on, and his mother kept reasoning with him from across the room that he had to wear his shoes to go to school, and kept at it until I pointed out to her that he was, in fact, being very helpful with getting his shoes on, but that “Off!” probably related more to the lights in the dining room.
And the worst part is that I get the feeling that these are the things that his speech therapist at school really can’t help with, to tell the truth. She can work on the structure of sentences – which I was doing this weekend, trying to ween him from the frozen construction of ‘Can I have X’ and into more dynamic constructions, such as “Can you help me?” “Can you fix it?” and the like – but I don’t know that she can really help to get him to understand that the shorter fragments don’t give enough information for others to help or understand him.
I think I’m going to give Proloquo another shot on some afternoon when he’s feeling more patient and more flexible with how he’s using his iPad. We’ve been a bit stuck lately on the familiar games he likes so much and on exercises that he wants to do, but I can imagine that giving him something with more structure might help…