“Here it is, the Disney Infinity 2.0 Guardian of the Galaxy play set. Don’t forget to ask your parents!”
I look up at Declan. He is standing in front of me, looking at me intently.
“What was that?” I ask.
“The Disney Infinity 2.0 Guardian of the Galaxy play set. Don’t forget to ask your parents!”
“What about them?”
“Can we go to the store and buy them?”
“The Disney Infinity 2.0 Guardian of the Galaxy play set?”
“Uh, maybe…we’ll see.”
“Yeah!” And off he runs to tell his brother and sister of the good news.
So, I just determined that Declan had been watching something about Disney Infinity 2.0 Guardian of the Galaxy play set. A lot.
These kind of interactions with Declan really crack me up.
On the surface, you would never know that Declan had lost his speech. He is speaking full sentences now. I am no longer counting the words per sentence to see if it was longer than one before. They are all long! Yes, some of the sentences are full repetitions of what he has heard. But most of the time, the repeated ones have purpose. He has come so far from where we started!
Declan had a very normal development. At his 18 month well visit I could count at least 30 words that he knew and was using correctly. He was well above the language level he was supposed to be. I honestly thought he was gifted.
I never even realized the speech had left at first. The Pediatrician that performed his 2 year well visit recommended I call the county for an evaluation based on some bizarre behaviors. So I did. When one of the women who came to do an evaluation asked Declan to say what was in the picture (a dog), he ran in circles. When she said to him point-blank, “Declan, say ‘dog'” Declan put his forehead on the ground and walked around the room.
I knew what she was getting at, and got mad at Declan. I knew he could say the word dog! We had 3 dogs! “Declan, SAY DOG!” But he just started throwing some of the pictures the woman brought with her.
I hadn’t even realized I had been answering screams and points for so long. I was coached to not give him something until he said the word of what he wanted. Use sign language or point to a PEC to tell me what he wanted. And we all had to wait. Some words started to reemerge. But the basics only got us so far.
One day, I was rushing around the house with the other kids, homework, chores, dogs. And Declan was hungry. Declan never sits to eat with the family. He is a grazer. He will eat as he is hungry.
We had a pizza delivered about an hour before that he was screaming and pointing at. So I asked him. “What do you want?” And he screamed and he pointed. And I waited.
“Okay, here is a slice of pizza.”
I put a piece of the pizza on a plate and handed it to him.
Declan started screaming and crying and threw the pizza on the ground. Frustrated myself, I am thinking, “What now?”
He picks it up, puts it back on the plate. I am still there. He takes a breath, points to the microwave and says “cook it.”
Those are the moments that bring tears to my eyes. I picked him up, I cheered. I knew what he wanted! He finally told me something! Something I could do to help him! For so long he couldn’t. He would scream and cry and I would have NO IDEA what he wanted or needed. We were both so very frustrated. I could try to guess – but you can imagine how successful charades with a 2-3 year old are.
Declan lost his ability to use verbal language for some time. For Declan, it was just delayed for a while. Not being able to communicate with him was so very hard for me, and I can’t imagine how hard it was on him. Not being able to tell me what he needed or wanted, let alone felt. It was frustrating for everyone.
So, I love to watch him watch his You Tube videos. He loves to watch Ethan Gamer on You Tube, learn to play a new scene on Disney Infinity, laugh at Ethan’s jokes. Repeat some pattern of speech for a bit. I know I will hear that pattern again – either in the context of repetition or in some new form. And I am so happy to hear it!
And just a bit of warning – I have learned the hard way – he repeats everything he hears!