A little less conversation

I'd have to say that for me personally the hardest part of Sophie's autism is her nonverbal-ness. I am a hyper-verbal person- a reader, a writer and a TALKER. I love lectures, metaphors, literature, psychobabble, analyzing and over-analyzing books and movies... Yup I definitely exist in the realm of verbosity. I couldn't wait for my kids to develop language so I could read them stories, tell them about the world and answer all their questions. Before they talked I had only a vague idea as to their personalities, but when we could communicate they came into a sharper focus as real little people with unique opinions and thoughts. I loved that.

Sophie started out talking, quite early in fact. She had a lot of nouns (usually food-related) and names (friends, family and Thomas engines). She had between 50 and 75 words in her vocabulary I'd estimate. Most of the time she would repeat after us or use words to request things. She also liked listing names of friends who came to visit that day (lots of little people visit everyday). I have to say I took her speech for granted. Yes, she talked early, but all my kids did. I never expected her NOT to talk. So when she stopped I assumed it was temporary. Surely if we keep talking to her she would start talking again right?

It's been a year since her regression. She's come a long way in that year. But while her pre-verbal skills seem to be intact (she babbles, makes requests, eye contact, even uses PECS if so inclined) speech still eludes her. She does have a couple short words and her babbling seems to be getting more complex. I long to hear her voice though, hear her chatter once again. She was a real chatterbox as a one-year old. How fleeting were those moments, how quickly they slipped into dreamlike memories.

But it is bittersweet. Days spent with a toddler who is unnaturally quiet have a meditative, zen-like tone. Many times I catch myself chatting incessantly and really, needlessly. Does she care about my constant drone? Look at this, look at that, see the plane, see the squirrel. She sees without me pointing it out I'm sure.

Sophie on one of her many paths

If she doesn't think in words how does she think? I think she thinks in pictures like Temple Grandin; she is an intensely visual person. I suspect she has a photographic memory too. Her special talent is routes and directions. This girl is able to process the layout of a location the first time she visits and find what she is after without any effort. She's shown us over and over that she can retrace her steps backwards to the entrance of a store she's never been in before or to a specific room in a multi-room school.

Sophie forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Move out of the verbal language mode and into a more visual one. I already model more than explain, do instead of say. But many times I still feel the need to narrate my actions, rely on words to convey my message. And I know that is important too, to familiarize her with the language which I know she will use one way or another. But I want to make the effort more often to visit Sophie in her world; full of images, and paths, and trees. And just shut up already.



  1. It's beautiful to visit both worlds and keep them alive and happening.
    Hugs, momma.

    I can't imagine. While I know this is nothing comparable to your story...
    When my son was 6 and 7 he showed strong signs of being dyslexic. He would cry, and wonder why he couldn't read like the other kids, or why he couldn't make sense of the alphabet. He once memorized a whole book, that was read through out the school year, just so everyone would think he was actually reading. He was so sad. Wanted to know what was wrong with him. I told him everyone is different. Everyone learns in their own way and in their own time. I told him I loved him and that nothing was wrong with him. I would always help him.
    A year later, something in him clicked. The puzzle that he couldn't put together suddenly made sense to him.
    They are complex little beings. We just never know what will be or become.
    I know it's not the same, at all.
    I just really hope something clicks and her verbal skills come back.


    1. Thanks Angie
      The brain is a fascinating thing and we know so little about it still. "Just clicking" is probably thousands of neurons rewiring themselves and making connections, invisible to us. Thanks for your kind words and I'm glad your son got over his learning disability. Sophie is my little puzzle, that is for sure!

  2. Learning to see things in new ways is fascinating. I used to wonder why my son would find my dull grey cap hilarious when I held him in my arms. My theory is that he probably saw the visor as a strange flat protrusion coming from my forehead and making funny peckish movements at him when I moved my head. He is also quite visual, although I cannot say, how much he gets. He loves branches, flowers and the like. Your zebra chair would be a riot to him. I believe we use all our senses to think. For example, proprioceptive feedback helps a lot to understand the concept of "pointing" (we are working on it at the moment).

    1. Yes Sophie's senses are not working in a typical fashion. It is obvious her visual sense is her strongest, but she has problems with most of the others, namely motor planning, proproceptive, auditory... I think really, her senses not giving her appropriate feedback is responsible for most of her delays. She laughs at funny sounds :) words like "push!" Or "puff" have her in stitches.

  3. Oh for sure, cutting back on your own chat will make a huge difference. I think that due to Sophie's regression, you need to go back to all the *non verbal* language that little kids (babies) work their way through before becoming verbal. Seriously, all that non verbal stuff is HUGE.... and I am not talking PEC's!

    1. Yes I do believe that you have to meet the child at the level they are functioning at and then take them one step beyond that (like you wrote in your "it's not about the carrot" post). I actually linked to your post in my previous entry "spring musings". It really resonated with me.
      Thanks for dropping by :)


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