Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Alex can talk... but not really.

Eventually, I will get around to telling you about Goofy's parent/teacher conference because I have some really great information for you but today, Alex is the one on my mind.

I told you before that Alex can talk. and he can, he has the ability. sort of. He has vocal stims- many. which means his talking equipment works. He has echolalic phrases- but not many. He has a few single words- but not many. Definitely not enough to hold a conversation but enough to let me know what he wants. sort of. He can tell me good morning and come on in and goodbye and want it and don't want it but he can't really tell me much more than that or any specifics for any of them. He can tell me no and happy and stop. He can greet anyone he knows with a bright and cheery "Hi!" He can name Mom and Dad and Walter. He can identify Mommy and Daddy, Thing1, Thing2, and Goofy. These things tell me Alex can talk.

To me.

I'm focused so much on his potential and what I feel he is capable of in the future- distant or near- that I'm ignoring his own free will and the reality of where he is today. I'm so excited about who he can be that I forget to factor in who he is and what he wants. I forget to consider his comfort. This all came to my attention in his IEP meeting. At the time, the words felt brutal but just as much as I needed his pre-k team to tell me, "you have to consider the possibility that he may never go beyond where he's at." so that I could deal with facts instead of daydreams, I needed to hear the SLP tell me, "I know how badly you want him to talk but..." I missed the next part because those words hit so hard but I think she said that's not where he's at. How badly I want him to talk... what about what he wants? what he needs? What about him?

I was reminded that Alex chooses who he talks to and when he speaks. Whether it's a conscious decision or a part of his neurology, it's his. It's not mine to force. He's known his Daddy since before he was born and still won't talk to him. He's known his Mommy since he was 4 months old and won't talk to her. I could easily blame that on the fact that they haven't been around for the past 4 years, which is why he no longer names them, but his Dad has been a daily fixture in his life for going on 6 years and he still doesn't talk to him- won't even talk to me in front of him. Walter is his favorite person but he doesn't hold conversations (the Alex-type) with him. His Regular Elementary didn't know he had words at all for an entire year.

So, yes, Alex can talk... to me.

 I want my message to him to be that he can be anything he wants to be, he can do anything he wants to do. The message that his potential is limitless, or limited only by what he wants. Not that he should want only what I want.

It's one thing to encourage, to enable, to teach, to provide opportunity. It's quite another thing to force, to push, to demand. Alex will talk... when he's ready.

Until then, Alex is non-verbal. and I have to be ok with that.


  1. I am so glad he has someone to talk to! It must be wonderful to be a chosen one! We have the opposite problem. James will talk to anyone and tell them everything about himself, where he lives and who we are. It is kind of scary! I wish James would be more selective!

    1. James sounds like my Goof! That boy will strike up a conversation with anyone!

  2. I have a talker who doesn't have brakes. He didn't always talk though. He was pretty much like Alex for ability but was not selective. When he was just past 6 it was like the flood gates opened and he still hasn't stopped 10 years later. A lot of it is still nonsense, echolalia, etc but he has a memory for movie details like ratings, studios etc and for celebrity birthdays etc that are astounding.
    You never know what might come bubbling out, keep up the great work and thanks for sharing. Bless you

  3. I just found your blog and this is the first post I'm reading so you may have talked about this in past blogs so I apologize if I'm asking a question you have answered already but...has AAC been trialed for Alex? I have worked with some kiddos who were minimally verbal (small expressive vocabulary)who once they began using an voice activated AAC device (apps on iPad) began to speak AFTER choosing correct symbol or word. It was a great way to transition from minimally verbal to mostly verbal communication over time while teaching vocabulary (receptive and expressive) and taking the pressure off of "talking"! Might be worth looking into if that has not been trialed yet. Again, sorry if this has been discussed in the past.

    1. Thank you! The school is wanting to use other forms of communication, right now they are working on PECS. He's learning to used a touch screen on the Smart Board they have in class and on the computer where he can choose which music videos he wants to watch. He's also working on matching objects to photographs and identifying photographs and (as I understood it) then he's match photographs to line drawing so he can use devices.

  4. yes that is great, you shouuld get him with his peers others like him and me because with our own peers we can interact and connect on a very deep level, and w do comunicate, this is awesome, i do hope youwill worl on sign languages and aac devices because that will ADD to him, and help him talk outloud to the normies and he can tell them, hry, im autistic, im not a baby

    hehe he likes a lot of the some toy andstuff i do i widh i couuld meet him he sounds perfect and he sounds like loads of fun ;-) i got videos on youtube shannonbarnesdr1