Wow – today’s post on Speak for Yourself’s blog hits me right in the heart. So many people *don’t* see these small gains in communication skills because they are too busy collecting data or focusing on something else. Please read it, especially if you are a professional working with students with complex communication needs.
It can be so frustrating when other people don’t notice how many skills my son has with communication just because he won’t use full sentences most of the time and doesn’t phrase things as “I want x. I want y.” Did you know I deliberately didn’t teach “I want” and asked him to say “please” instead? Did you know I purposely didn’t spend all my time focusing on requesting because he can do so much more than request?
Please don’t count it against him that he prefers commenting on things he is noticing and telling you what he is thinking about. Please don’t box him into being required to say “I want this” and “Good Morning so-and-so” and “Today is Monday”. Those are all great things to be able to say. But he is SO MUCH more.
He wants to tell you about everything that looks like or reminds him of carnival rides. He needs to be able to say “this is boring” or “I’m excited to go to Grandpa’s house later”. He needs to be able to have a way to tell you he understands what you’ve taught and is ready to move on to the next thing.
He’s said things like: “Backwards solar system Neptune Uranus Saturn Jupiter Mars Earth Venus Mercury Sun.” “Jupiter big. Pluto little. Mars Red. Venus hot. Neptune cold. Milky way big.” “Planets orbit sun.” “Ten Carnivals too loud.” “My favorite ride carousel.” He mostly uses a couple words at a time still and the longer phrases are less common.
His lack of consistency and inability to always communicate effectively does not mean we need go back to square one with teaching “I want x”. It means we need to continue modeling a lot and talking about interesting things that he wants to be able to say. We need to help reduce barriers to accessing communication and help him build the motor planning needed to find his words so that he doesn’t have to expend so much mental and physical energy on finding the buttons when he has something to say.
He’s a bright kid. He has SO MUCH to share. See him where he is and focus on having meaningful interactions where he can develop ways to expand on what he wants to say. I can’t do this alone.