To date, most of Eddie’s language has been echolalia, or simply repeating something he heard. He does ask for certain things, but in a manner that was “fed” to him. For example, when thirsty, he ALWAYS says “I want water, please.” He never varies it by saying, “Can I have water?” or “Mom, please get me some water.” He sticks to a script that gets the job done.
During the last week of school, we started hearing something new from Eddie. It was dictated to him, but he was using the phrase in a variety of settings. This new phrase was, “I like that ___.” The blank was filled in with the word “book”, first. Then, I heard him fill it in with the word “song.” It seemed Eddie was trying to express himself. This was a very different thought process than simply asking for his needs to be met.
Just a few days ago, we were at a birthday party for very close friends of ours. Their son, a boy in Eddie’s class, was turning six. He had a party with a group of boys from school, and Eddie was there along with the rest of our family. He didn’t participate with the boys, but sat in a chair where all the action was happening. Even though Eddie appeared to be in his own world, a couple of the boys came up, and said hi to him. When we arrived, I even heard one of them say, “It’s Eddie!”
While at the party, it didn’t appear that Eddie was taking much in, or that it seemed to matter that we were at a party. He liked when we sang, “Happy Birthday,” and of course liked to have cake. After a couple hours, we went to leave and Eddie said, “I like that party,” followed by, “I like that birthday.” Well, I was pretty floored. The fact that he was acknowledging where we were, and that he liked it, was a big jump from the kind of speech we typically here.
Sometimes it is hard to tell how much Eddie comprehends. I often get asked, “Does he understand me?” “Does he like this, or does he not like something?” Often times, I reply with a standard, “I don’t know.” In reality, their guess is often as good as mine. So, the idea that he can start truly expressing some feelings is outstanding.
Last night, I was surprised to hear something new, but a little defeated to learn that maybe Eddie didn’t quite comprehend his new phrase. As we do every night, I was giving Eddie an injection that he takes regularly. He usually tries to fight it a little, but has been getting it daily for five years, so he is very familiar with the routine. Once I was done, Eddie said, “I like that shot.” It appeared that Eddie didn’t really understand what it meant to “like” something.
From his behavior and experience, I know that Eddie does not like “that shot.” This means we have some work to do. Today, I decided to work harder to teach him what “like” and “not like” mean, and how they are different. If Eddie has the language, the first step is already done. Now, I just need to teach him to apply it. I think the next big success will be when he says, “I don’t like ___.” I hear that constantly from his sisters, and now I can’t wait to hear Eddie say it, too.