The Narrator was pretty slow in his speech development the first few years of his life. We actually had a speech therapist come to the house a few days a week and work with him on developing his skills. Before our enrollment in the early intervention program which afforded us the therapist, much of his speech was limited to the first letter of each word he wanted to say, and it was up to us to figure out what he wanted.
“Buh…..” – could mean ball? bear? berries?
“Cuh….” – car? cup? cookie?
It was exhausting trying to figure out what he wanted based on the context of the pseudo conversation we were having with him.
Luckily for us, EI worked amazingly. We had a total of three therapists in his time in the program, and two were spectacular. The third was…..eccentric. She used to use what she called ‘facial prompts’ when trying to teach him to talk, which meant physically grabbing his face and moving it about to show him how his face should work when he spoke. I don’t know if that method works, but The Narrator HATED it, and as a result he clammed up when she came, resulting in no growth. We were forced to ask EI for another therapist, who turned out to be brilliant.
…Now The Narrator is right where he should be. Not only is he gathering a staggering vocabulary, but his ability to express what he wants to say has become exceptional.
During his growing time though, as he developed his speech abilities, I rather shamefully admit that I found some of what he tried to say absolutely amusing. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t laughing at my son as he tried to grow, I was laughing at the result, and I can’t believe anyone in my position wouldn’t have gotten at least a chuckle out of what he had said as well. I made it a practice not to laugh out loud in front of him, there was no way I was going to jeopardize his growth and development by adding self-conscious to the mix at three years old.
However, when he wasn’t there, or when I could turn aside…I did laugh. Often. His whimsical sense of humor was also beginning to develop, and that, coupled with a budding grasp on speech made for some amazing utterances.
His pronunciation of “Construction” was rather heavily garbled and came out sounding like “Fuckin'” – so we (in a sole effort to get him to practice of course!) would ask him to say things like “Construction truck” or “Construction man” or “Construction people.”
The crown jewel though was a comedic utterance that had undertones of success. It came one spring day when I took him for a walk. As we walked up the road, we came across a dead bird. He was probably a little over three years old at the time, I don’t remember exactly, but he looked down and saw it.
“Daddy, whats that?”
Me: “That is a bird.”
“Oh. What is the matter with it?”
Me: “Well, its dead…it isn’t alive anymore.”
Me: “Well, sometimes in nature, things die. It happens for lots of reasons and it gives bugs and other animals something to eat.”
….at this point he becomes silent, and I’m wondering if my short little biology lesson was too much to grasp. It was. When he finally spoke again:
“Oh. Well, whobody dead-ed it?”
On the surface, it was one of the most amusing thing he had said to date, because…lets face it, that was funny.
Then, as I thought about it though, that funny little comment was a huge indication that The Narrator was on the way to great success with his speech training. Had he been 5 or 6 when he said this, I might have been worried about his development, but at three and a little bit, he was able to articulate his question on a subject he didn’t understand using words he did know. While I was overtaken at first with mirth, later on I realized that this was learning. He had no concept of ‘dead’ ‘death’ and ‘killing’ at that age, but he understood that the thing was not alive any more. He processed that to realize that this was ‘dead’ Somehow it happened, and we need to know why, or who made it like this. Not knowing the words, he was able to ask me the question he wanted to ask by changing the word he DID know in an effort to ask his question.
“dead-ed” might have been hilarious to hear, but it was also a spectacular incite to how the child’s mind worked at the time, and it was an indication that his speech therapy was working, that he was growing, and that if things continued along at this rate, he’d grow into an irrepressible chatterbox that would be too clever for his own good.
Surprise surprise, that is exactly what happened. He now talks from sunup to sundown. Everything and anything needs to be commented on, questioned, or critiqued. (Especially wounding are his comments like “That looks like a snowman to you?”) On one hand we’re very glad that he has shed his developmental delay. We’re very proud of him for the work he’s done to get to where he is.
…….But we’re also wondering how the hell to take the batteries out from time to time. Like any kid his age, he’ll talk to hear his own voice. He’s fallen asleep mid-sentence. “Whobody dead-ed it?” was the opening of a floodgate. Funny to hear him say, but an indication that he would someday be called “The Narrator” on an internet blogging site for very, very good reason.