Earlier this week we were having some major behavioural issues with Monkey. They tend to be exacerbated when she doesn’t sleep well the night before (because…toddlers.). Picture, screaming, hitting, whining, and anything else even when we asked her to do simple things. Luckily, the past few nights have meant better sleep, and she wakes up happy and is much more adept to following instruction.
Most of Monkey’s communication is echolalia and scripting from television shows, books, or what other people have said. There is very little functional communication with us, other than asking for things. She will say “More water”, or “more watch peppa pig” for example. We have been trying to shape this behaviour and asking her to say “I want” in front of her requests. She does this fairly well now, but still needs reminders every now and again. However, there is very little conversational communication with us – which is usual for a typical 3.5 year old.
Last night after bath time I was changing her into PJ’s and brushing her hair. She grabbed my phone on the dresser and said “Let’s call Amma” (what she calls my mother). I was stunned for a minute, and we went on Facetime with my mom..the she said “Let’s Call Baba” (what she calls my father). Then my dad came into the screen and they were laughing and playing and making silly faces. After a while she said “Let’s call Mamoo” – (what she calls my brother). I was absolutely floored. The fact that she knows who these people are and said this spontaneously means the world to me. This was the first functional communicative sentence that she has made without prompting!
After the phone call, she went to brush her teeth and said “I’m brushing my teeth”. The fact that she used a proper sentence and pronouns is HUGE! We showed her lots of praise and J and I looked at each other with shock and joy.
J put her to bed last night, and I asked for a kiss, and said “goodnight, I love you”. Normally, J has to prompt her to say “I love you Mommy”. But she said it on her own with no prompting. This was the first time that my child said “I love you Mommy” on her own. She has said this to me before, but to say it with no prompting or simply repeating it back shows so much progress. I closed the door and wept tears of joy for a good 10 minutes. 4 months of therapy and thousands of dollars aside…our Monkey is able to communicate with us more and more every day.
To some this is a small thing, but when you can’t communicate with your child – it becomes a moment that will be etched in my memory forever. I know she is smart and that her vocabulary is expansive – we just need to help her to bring it out. There are days that we struggle – but the good days and the good moments are the things that pull us through.