Words. Oh, wonderful beautiful joyful words. And they are coming from my son's mouth. Constantly. All.Day.Long. Prompted and unprompted. He is speaking.
A few mornings ago I found him awake in bed. He turned and looked at me after I greeted him Good Morning and said: "I want coffee." Where did this come from? I don't know. Maybe he has heard this exchange between Nik and I about a zillion times since birth. Come to think of it, he probably thought it was the desired response. But the point is: he said it. And then we were sitting with our neighbors on the front porch (yes, we live on a summer is spent on the front porch with your neighbors kind of street) eating popsicles. Oliver had finished his and reached for mine. I pulled it out of his reach because, after all, it was lime which is my favorite and I didn't want to share. But then he said: "I want the popsicle." So I handed it over. My neighbors eyes just about popped out of her head. She has a daughter, 2 and a half, with downs syndrome who has yet to say even mama, so I know she is celebrating with me. I, of course, was bursting with pride.
And the therapists are all a buzz. At the end of each session they joyfully tell me about his emerging language skills. Of course this is Oliver's accomplishment but it is hard won all the way around. They are as excited as we are for what this means for him.
And it comes in the nick of time. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is taught in something like 5 phases. Oliver breezed through the first two phases in record time. And then he got stuck. Phase three was not so easily conquered. He has been working on it for almost nine months. There have been days over the past few months, many of them I'll admit, when I succumbed to despair. It is a wrestling match with me. I have always believed that Oliver could talk. That he would talk. But the day after day of the silence often made me question that belief. I had thought that PECS would be the vechicle for language acquisition. But no progress and no speech. ... that was rough.
And then: boom. He's talking. So we're chucking PECS. I want to reinforce success. I want to reinforce what motivates him. And at the moment that really seems to be language. So we're switching gears. PECs is out the window and we begin on a verbal behavior program next week.
Pass the popsicles and the coffee; it's a whole new brave world and Oliver is leading the way!