Sunday, November 21, 2010

Echoing Oliver

I wish you could hear Oliver talk. I wish you could hear the way he manages to get it all out, but slowly and only with me asking him and then repeating each and every word as he says it. It is laborious. A process every time.

"Oliver," I say as he hands me his plate with half a sandwich still remaining, "is there something you want to say?"

"I. don't. want. to. eat. that. I'm. finished."

Or, when he gets up half-way through the video game he is playing with his brother and I call him back: "What's going on little man?" and he says: "I. don't. want. to. play. anymore."

At dinner when he hungrily looks up from his nearly empty plate there is: "I. want. to. have. some. more. noodles." And later: "I'm. full."

He can say it. The words are there, but he waits to hear my words echo back to him. If I don't he loses steam and trails off into nothing.

I encourage and cajole. Anything to get him to turn his thoughts from silence into words.

Yesterday when we were out raking leaves and despite the cold Oliver took off his sweater. In the spirit of letting him decide for himself I didn't interfere. Then, a half-hour later he picked up the sweater from where it had landed on the back deck and handed it to me saying (without the need for me to repeat it back to him): "I'm cold. I want to put my sweater on." Just like that; full of the glory of pronouns.

He's still mostly quiet and, like almost everyone else in the house, lost in the wake of the verbal typhoon that is Sami. He is pointing now, to everything, with ease and without prompts. We play the pointing game every time we go to get Sami from school and the words are there. "I see a big truck." "I see the sky." "I see a house." I wish someone could tell me what his language would look like in a year, five years or ten. But for now it feels like we're getting somewhere.

For now I let it be enough.


  1. Oh, the magic crystal ball! Is that on your Christmas list?

    I understand the laborious language. Foster's there. Not all the time. But when he's excited. When he's upset. When he's tired. When he's overwhelmed. You know. Often.

  2. Pronouns!! Wow that is amazing!! How did you get pronouns????

  3. The repeating is so intriguing to me. Henry always wanted us to repeat when he was younger and learning to piece together sentences. I always figured it had to do with all the speech therapy? And whatever, he was talking, I was glad to echo.

    But all these years later he still is not satisfied unless we repeat something. Now he will say his sentence a couple times "lions live in a group called a pride..." and if you don't catch on and repeat, he will say "I want you to repeat me. Lions live in a group called a pride."!!

    What is it about the repeating that verifies the words in their minds??

  4. Wow! The syntax is perfect. He just needs extra time to process it all.

  5. John does the same thing with me you know. I have to repeat every word he says. What's new is that he has started copying what I say - even down to the same inflection. One word utterances, not sentences, but he seems to be playing with language, seeing how it feels in his mouth. Do you think Oliver is doing something similar?