Getting What You Ask For

Repeat this mantra – “non-verbal does not mean mute”.

I’m constantly surprised at how folks comment on how ‘verbal’ the Monster is, without understanding that while he can say a great deal, he doesn’t communicate a lot.  He does have words, but they’re often hard to pull from him to get at the crux of what he wants at any given moment.  Like a lot of parents, we frequently grumble about how we wish he’d just tell us what he wants.

Well, we got our wish this week.

As I mentioned last time, we hit a baseball game this weekend, our last planned one of the year.  It made for a long day, since we went down early to meet friends, then stayed through the whole game, let the kids run the bases, and had to get home and… when we got home, after a bit of cooling down, the Monster made his little growl sound that warned that we were on the verge of a meltdown (someone gets hangry now and again).  And then…

“I want to go to the baseball game.”

Clear as day, but also something we can’t just do.  The game was over.  We don’t have plans to go to another one this year.  My wife and I, not quite understanding, offered him the simple truth – we’ll go to more games next year, and there’s always more baseball and…

“I want to go to the baseball game.”  And he started to get agitated about this, to the point that we scrambled to see if a baseball game was on TV that he could watch, something to at least scratch the itch.  (Of course, at 6:30 on a Sunday afternoon in September, there’s no baseball on, and even football didn’t seem to fix the problem.  Kid was being specific about what he wanted.)

Now, don’t get me wrong – this is massive progress from where we were.  It’s his communicating clearly that he has a want, exactly what his wants are, and his being assertive in advocating for himself instead of depending on someone else to be translating for him, or making assumptions based on observations of how he’s behaving.  Some of it is definitely thanks to the work his teachers are doing at school with trying to broaden how he uses language and some of it is from his ABA therapists working with him to get him to make choices… but this is all him at this point, when he comes out with fully formed sentences.

Though getting what you want works both ways.  We asked for him to ask for what he wants.  Perhaps we should’ve said ‘when it’s something we can get for him’…

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