Kate is picking up vocabulary with amazing speed. She can now repeat just about anything you say to her. We are pleased with the acquisition of more words but we are still working very hard on getting her to use those words and terms appropriately. We are extremely lucky that she is communicating with us. Now, when I say this next part please understand that I do not wish to take anything away from those people that have great struggles with communicating with their non-verbal children. I only wish to point out that the acquisition of words does not mean the acquisition of conversation.
I have worked with extremely verbal children on the high functioning end of the spectrum that are very unreliable in terms of conversation. These children may have the tools needed for conversation but they lack the social understanding of how a conversation works.
Kate, for example, is getting really great at requesting things. She even greets people appropriately (if a hug attack can be considered appropriate). She does, however, struggle to answer questions. She'll fool you though. A conversation with Kate will often go something like this:
Stranger: (After receiving a hug and a hello from Kate which happens more often than not) Hello there, what's your name?
Kate: "Wuz your name, yeah."
Stranger: "How old are you?"
Kate: "How old ah ew, yeah."
Stranger: "You're awfully cute, aren't you?"
Kate: "Awe cute, yeah."
You get the picture. If you ask Kate if she wants to go the pool, she will respond with, "Pool, yeah." If you ask Kate if she wants a needle, she will respond with, "Needle, yeah."
She has figured out how to answer appropriately for things that highly motivate her like avoiding bedtime or eating her "Wunch" (lunch). So we are still working on this whole back and forth thing. She'll get it, I am sure.
I just wanted friends and neighbours and teachers and family members to understand that although an autistic child is verbal they don't always possess the skills needed to communicate effectively and functionally. This can lead to extreme frustration for the child and others. So, hold off on the, "well at least she can talk" comments. Talking is only a tiny part of communication. Got it?
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27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)