Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Let's count till yellow ⋆ Little thoughtlets from the world of Autism
Have you noticed how every house with a baby has a language of it’s own? Our children bring in a whole new life for us…and with that comes a completely new vocabulary too. We catch ourselves ending every word with “baby syllables” and making up a song for every activity we do with our child. However, as they grow up they grow out and graduate to an adult version of the language .
When we had Vedant we too were that parent, substituting every regular word with a cuter version, pretty confident that very soon he will grow out of it so why not enjoy the overdose of cuteness while it lasts…well, he certainly was in no hurry to grow out of it. He decided to give us more time to spend with his childhood, so we still are a family that says phrases that appear totally out of context to others but make complete sense to us.
We still sing when we brush his teeth, wash his hands, or stroll on the sidewalk… and now when we are trying to make him independent, we can hear him sing while washing his tiny little hands…he thinks it’s part of the routine…at least he gets the tune right even if the words are all fuzzy. It’s the most melodious song you will ever hear and I would not change that for anything.
We have been trying to improve his vocabulary but he seems to have decided on a magical number he wants to stick to. So when he learns a few new words, he drops a few from his repository and reuses the new words with different voice modulations to mean different things. All we have to do is pay attention to his tone of voice to interpret what he is trying to imply.
He lately learned “leave me” — lee lee in his language. So when he wants me to let him go it’s Mumma, lee lee and when he wants me to help him get off his dad’s grip, it’s Mumma lee lee too. It’s mumma lee-lee even when he is handing me something and also when he is stuck somewhere. So, clearly , we function on an optimal vocabulary and somehow it seems to work fine within our world.
If I had the option, I would let Vedant take his own time growing up but peer pressure is a very powerful factor. You have to look a certain way, know certain things, and respond in a particular manner. There are milestones to measure you every step of the way. So, there I was, teaching my son colors, trying to match his pace with the rest of the kids around him. I would point to every rad car in our neighborhood and try to teach him the colors…he ended up calling a car Red instead of a calling it a car. To change track, I started teaching him numbers and now he can count till ten, with absolutely no idea what the numbers mean. I, however, was so proud that he can at least retain numbers. So, I next went back to colors again and introduced the color yellow…without any success. I concluded that color was a very abstract concept for him and I should probably try it when he is more ready cognitively. I eventually went back to my saving grace– the numbers. Every evening I would sit and read a book to him and then I slowly started involving him in the reading process. One of the days I counted the monkeys in the book for him and asked “how many”. He excitedly replied “lellow”. I just did not have the heart to correct this absolutely adorable answer. So now every time we count, we count till yellow. There are some quirks worth cherishing before you bring in the correction brigade.
They say, the trouble is, you think you have time. I agree. The little time I have, I want to spend more of it enjoying my son and waste less correcting him when it’s actually the world that needs to be corrected, that needs to change its skewed perspective. Autism is a lot of hard work, tons of disappointment, and innumerable cherishable moments. It’s about enjoying those perfectly imperfect moments….and count till yellow until they can count.