Monday, February 04, 2008

Comprehension check.

Last night as I was undressing KayTar to put her jammies on, I asked her a series of questions. Initially I was just trying to gauge her reflexive "yeah" answers, because she says "yeah" in response to most questions, unless it has to do with food, in which case "NO!" is the optimal answer.

I took her shoes off and said, "KayTar, are these feet?" thinking a silly, obvious question might get an accurate answer.

She said, "Yeah."

I gave her that, "Are you sure? I don't think so." look and asked again.

"Yeah."

I asked a third time, this time I actively shook my head no, which she duplicated and then said, "Yeah."

Then I said, "Are these feet? NO!"

"Are these feet? NO!" she said.

So I asked again, "Are these feet?"

"Yeah."

"No KayTar, these are shoes. Not feet. SHOES."

"Shoes."

"Are these shoes?"

"Yeah."

"Are these feet?"

"Yeah."

"No, not feet. These are shoes."

Then I held up her jeans and tried again. "Are these legs?"

"Yeah."

Asked again with the look.

"Yeah." she said.

"Are these legs?" while vigorously shaking my head no.

"Yeah."

"Are these legs? NO!"

"No!"

"Are these legs?"

"Yeah."

"No. These are not legs. These are pants. Pants."

"Pants."

"Are these pants?"

"Yeah."

"Are these legs?"

"Yeah."

"No, not legs. These are pants."

And AGAIN with her shirt, because it is too fascinating at this point to stop.

"Is this a tummy?"

"Yeah."

"Is this a tummy?" while giving the look.

"Yeah."

"Is this a tummy?" shaking my head no.

"Yeah."

"Is this a tummy? NO! It's a shirt."

"No. It's a shirt."

"Is it a tummy?"

"Yeah."

"No, not a tummy. It's a shirt. Is it a shirt?"

"Yeah."

"Is it a tummy?"

"Yeah."

[insert witty verbal dissecting skills here, I think I'm out of them]

First of all, I chose to start the initial question because I thought the no answer would be obvious, but she answered incorrectly which at the same time surprised me and didn't surprise me because of her fondness for yeahs. Then I added a subtle nonverbal clue. She didn't pick up on it. Then I added an obvious nonverbal clue, which she copied, but still answered incorrectly. She parroted the correct answer, but then continued to give the wrong answer. She was focused on what we were talking about, and she wasn't being silly. (I know lots of typical kiddos who answer incorrectly to get a giggle, BubTar does it a lot) I'm slightly stumped as to whether she really does not understand the difference between pants and legs or if it was just the fact it was a question that confused her. When she gets hurt she does say "Owww, hurt-a my PANTS!" or "Owww! hurt-a my shirt!" but I've always thought she said that because that is what she can physically see. She fell down and hit her pants on the ground, so she says she hurt her pants. But maybe she thinks the terms are interchangeable? Or maybe she just thinks the answer to every question is yes? I said before that this is her go-to answer, but I really thought with aid of nonverbal clues or giving her the correct answer to parrot and following the same format for each line of questioning might help her clue in on the correct answer.

I'm not sure, but as I find more and more of these areas that we are unsure about her knowledge or comprehension it makes me wonder what else is being missed. How much of what we say to her or what she says to us in a day is really understood? As she gets older and more is expected of her by the outside world, this is really going to compound her problems. She has the ability of appearing advanced in most areas, in many areas she is advanced. But at the basis of it, language, she has so many gaps that cannot be readily seen. We discover them by happenstance and it makes me question everything I think I know about her; how much is a show and how much does she really know? How many important things do I say to her each day that don't register at all? I've talked about this before at length. I know she doesn't understand certain things, but finding another camouflaged spot is always a bit unsettling.

I think BubandPie nailed the crux of our sibling problem. I think BubTar, like most people who meet her, are overestimating what KayTar comprehends, because she appears to understand much more than she truly does. Even I am unsure where this line lies and I am with her 24 hours a day most of the time. It is something we will have to work through together and hope that even if they can't exactly understand each other, they can still learn to work within the other's boundaries.

****

My Best Shot Monday, from the series I took of her and Gee.

29 comments:

DanaB said...

What a precious shot--just priceless!

I totally understand the speech/language issues as the mama of a hearing impaired/speech impaired son. He's now 14 and doing beautifully, we're so proud of him. My point in sharing is, hang in there Mama!

~~

Sara said...

how sweet I love her hands.

I could have wrotet he post above me about the hearing/speech impaired son, except mines 5, and doing a lot better than he was, but still struggling a lot.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

sweet little hands. :)

Beck said...

It is HARD to figure out what goes on in their little noggins, isn't it?
Sweet, sweet picture.

Aliki2006 said...

That is a sweet shot, so perfect.

Body/self-awareness is something difficult for kids on the spectrum--I know Kay-Tar hasn't been diagnosed formally with autism, but it may be that she just isn't fully aware yet of the physical boundaries and of the names which correspond to her body parts.

L., to a degree, was/is similar. It was *years* before he learned to process hunger feelings. He still doesn't do so well (he'll say his stomach hurts, for instance, when it's clear it hurts from hunger) and he denies the relationship between being hungry and having a stomach ache. And now, while he is incredibly fearful of anticipated pain, he is often completely oblivious of hurting himself--scraping a knee, for instance.

It may be that K. needs som extra help "turning on" that self-awareness and the good thing is you can start with her now, while she's still so young.

Christine said...

that is really fascinating--i never thought about that she may relates things to their visual clues in that way.

Running on empty

Julie Pippert said...

Beautiful photo.

I went back and read your sibling posts that I missed while out gallivanting (read: euphemism for Three wrangling). Oh BubTar, little sweet sensitive soul. He can come sit next to Patience. And you can sit next to me. (HUGS)

I am sorry it is such a mystery. That has to be one of the hardest parts.

Janet said...

You're working so hard to try and understand the world from your little girl's point of view. You're a dedicated mama.

dawn224 said...

can she answer "what is this?", "where are your ...?" and give correct answers? (just more curiosity to explore - I would have done exactly what you did - wanna degree?

ewe are here said...

Still love her little hands. :-)

Karen said...

well, that is a mystery to be sure. my mind is going to chew on that for a bit - you are doing an amazing job ferreting out all the little cracks where comprehension is missing. Soon you'll be filling them in, no doubt.

kittenpie said...

Wow, that is interesting! I am always wondering how their little minds work, and sometimes those little insights make it all the more mysterious, don't they?

Hetha said...

Beautiful photo! Another parent of a deaf child here who totally understands this post. Man it's tough. I just keep talking and drilling it in, but having a nonverbal child sure does make it a mind game!

I was thinking about E and Kaytar on my way home from speech today and I decided that when they're someday, maybe when they're teenagers, you and I will look back on these years when our primary role was investigator/staunch advocate and think how happy we are to be able to finally just relax.

~aj~ said...

That's very interesting. I guess it's just another piece in the complex puzzle that is KayTar.

The picture is just precious. Precious!

slouching mom said...

By the time she's five, I would feel fairly confident in awarding you a PhD in Linguistics.

carrie said...

ahhh...such sweet little hands.

knittingwoman said...

My first 4 kids were NT boys. My fifth and only daughter has NLD. She wasn't formally diagnosed until she was 9 1/2. She has developmental delays, didn't walk until 25 months, was non verbal until 3 1/2. She was very literal and did almost no imagination play. Now she has an amazing vocabulary, and understands the difference between imaginary and real. She still has lots of issues and challenges and we don't know what the long term future holds for her in so many ways but she has made so much progress especially in the last couple of years.
Hang in there, sometimes one day at a time is all a mom can do.

jo(e) said...

I think "Are these feet?" and "Are these for feet?" are questions that are awful similar in many languages. Her answers didn't seem that crazy to me.

But mostly, I just wanted to say I just love that photo of her hands.

natalie said...

Kyla,

Just let me say that I am COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by you. You are the most intuitive mother I have ever met (okay, met is a stretch, but you know what I mean). If KayTar were in another home, born to another family (even MY family), she would not be nearly as lucky. I don't have much more response than that right now...you are an excellent mother. KayTar and BubTar are so incredibly blessed.

And that BSM...AWESOME.

Kyla said...

jo(e), I tried it a different way this morning. She was wearing a dress (no pants in sight) and I touched her bare legs and said, "Are these pants?" and she still said, "Yeah." Of course she answered affirmative to "Are these legs?" too. ;) So I do tend to think it is either the question format or comprehension. She might just relate them interchangeably, I'm not really sure. But I think it is more than a simple sound alike issue.

susiej.com said...

I love her hands... this could be a great shot captured through the years repeated.

PJ said...

Perspicacity is the word that comes to mind -- in the sense that your are so Perceptive! I'm amazed at your insight. Keep working with her. Perhaps to see if understanding is in hibited by the question format, try the "touch your leg" "touch your pant" to see if you get a response. I'm sure you're keeping a log of this. These are valuable insights for future therapy and/or diagnosis.

And I love the picture!!!

Maggie said...

I love the hands - what a great shot!

Lisa b said...

keep at it Kyla.

flutter said...

ooof. those sweet little fingers....

Golightly said...

what sweet little hands.

nomotherearth said...

I'm with Slouching Mom. You're my go-to person for linguistics questions.

crazymumma said...

None of your shots are loading today. I hate my computer sometimes.

You know huh that she is a teenager in a little girls body don't you? You know that she is Waaaayyyy smarter than you right.

(Saying it with love and laughing in my voice.)

tracey said...

little hands make for perfect photos! great shot.