Monday, June 04, 2007


During KayTar's CT scan, the nurse wanted to attempted it without sedation. She asked me to explain to her that it is just a big camera and she needs to be very still like she is sleeping. I said, "She won't understand that. She has delays." which was the quickest explanation I could give without overwhelming her with the details. On the heels of my, "She is delayed." explanation, KayTar correctly identified a circle, square, triangle, and pentagon. The pentagon had the staff very impressed, and also looking at me like I was a big fat liar for saying she had delays.

She is a very smart little girl, that can't be denied, but she doesn't understand certain things. She doesn't really understand questions, unless is it something she has really practiced. At the end of her meals we ask, "Are you all done or do you want more?" and now she can answer us. I can ask her, "Do you want milk or juice?" and she can answer me. But most other questions she doesn't fully comprehend. She also doesn't understand things that are not concrete.

She is a masterful labeler, though. She talks all the time. We even have conversations, sure they consist of her saying a word and me parroting it back and forth with her, but she is laying the foundation of conversation structure, even if it is not quite functional yet. There is so much she does understand, but there are limits to it. She is doing so much better. Questions like "What color?" or "Where does it go?" are getting easier for her. She answers instead of repeats about half the time. She practices those a lot, asking us "Acolor?" and "Ago?" It seems she has to practice questions quite a bit before understanding, when someone says "What color?" I am supposed to name the color. Or when someone says "Where does it go?" I am supposed to put the puzzle piece in. I think for most children, these concepts come easily, but for her it is a a matter or practicing the proper responses, it can take months for her to learn how to answer a question. She has the knowledge, she knows all her colors and points them out unprompted much of the time. She is great at puzzles and always knows where the pieces go, she just doesn't understand the function of the question. I think that is why she needs me to repeat her words all day long, so she has a sounding board to practice with. To illustrate my point, I jotted down a conversation we had yesterday evening.

KayTar: Sul?

Me: What?

KayTar: Sul?

Me: What?

KayTar: Sul?

Me: Show me.

KayTar: Me.

Me: SHOW me.

KayTar: Me.

Me: (goes back to what I'm doing)

KayTar: Sul! *signs puzzle*

Me: Puzzle! Okay, which one?

KayTar: One.

Me: Which puzzle? Show me.

KayTar: Me.

Me: KayTar, do you want a puzzle?

KayTar: Sul! *signs puzzle*

Me: *points to a giant stack-o-puzzles* Which puzzle?

KayTar: Sul! *signs puzzle*

Me: No, which one?

KayTar: One!

Me: No, show me which puzzle.

KayTar: Sul! *signs puzzle*

Me: KayTar, I don't know which one.

KayTar: One.

Me: Can you show me?

KayTar: Me!

Me: *sigh* How about shapes?

KayTar: Pih-shays!

Me: Shapes, okay.

KayTar: Kay!

Me: You're welcome.

KayTar: Uncom.

Welcome to our world.


Bea said...

That is exactly Bub's process of acquiring language as well. First, he memorizes and repeats, then he begins to generalize, and finally he "gets it."

Right now, we're working on the "why" questions. He will use the word "why" (finally!), but only in specific context where I've shown him how. So if he sees a character smiling in a book, he will say "Why is he happy?" if I've asked that about that character before. He's just starting to generalize now, so he may ask "Why is [X] happy/sad/whatever?" but only with characters in books.

He hasn't yet asked a "why" question arising from his own curiosity, but I think we'll get there in a month or two.

Christine said...

How did the ct scan go? Was she able to do it with out sedation?

I found your conversation with Kaytar very interesting. She obviously knows her mind and what she wants, but, like you said, she needs practice on how to express herself when asked a question.

You are wonderfully observant. How lucky she is to have such a mommy!

NotSoSage said...

Mme L and I have exchanges like this all the time lately. It makes me think of my brother who, often to buy time while his brain catches up to the MEANING of the question, will parrot the question back at you first.

"How was your day?"
"How was my day?....Good."

S said...

You were so wonderfully patient throughout that entire segment.

What a mom.

Julie Pippert said...

What I find with kids---neurotypical and not---is that the challenge is to understand *their* language as *they* mean it.

With Patience, I could have back and forth discussions that were meaningful. With Persistence, I had to resort to the pull out two puzzles and say "which one of these?" for example to prompt her to point. She has a much higher level of frustration (and associated behavior) as a result.

It's great that you keep working with her. With such patience.

My friend Gina (you see her on my blog sometimes, maybe) has some videos she's used with her son that have been fantastic. One of the specialists suggested it. I think they are LeapPad ones but I'll ask if you like.

When do you find out about the scan?

Anonymous said...

You are such an inspiration! I love how you capture the life you are living and share it with us through your blog. You are a great writer. I have been following your story for about a year and I have seen that you are truly a wonderful mom!

Kristin said... that feels kinda normal to me (that conversation). Yesterday we were asking, "Why did you bonk your brother?" Easton: "Yes". "WHY did you bonk him?" "Yes". Ugh.

I know it's not the same.

You're an awesome mama. KayTar is a genius, I think.

Girlplustwo said...

wow. it's amazing all the things they teach us, the new ways to get around the same language.

Em said...

This is like Willow and her use of language. I had Willow's speech evaluation today - which was an interesting mixture (I'll write about it on my blog soonish...) she is in the 50th percentile for grammer, but the 3rd percentile for vocab... bizarre hey? but it explains why things don't "add up"...

Mad said...

I love these discussions around language acquistion because they follow distinct patterns and yet are unique for each child. I also have conversations with Miss M like yours and Kay-Tars. "Which one?" is a near impossible concept for her to grasp.

Miss M's most typical language stance these days, though, is her newly found desire to direct conversation. She will never use the first person, as in "I want to watch a show." Instead she will tell us what we need to ask her. Our convestations go like this:

Miss M: Do you wanna watch a show?

Me: Do YOU want to watch a show?

Miss M: OK


Miss M: You look pretty, Jenny. (Jenny is her latest self-styled pseudonym following on the heels of "Jesse Jeerial." We MUST call her Jenny at all times.)

Me: You look pretty Jenny.

Miss M: (dancing around in circles) PRETTTTY!!

Kyla said...

BubTar used to do things like Miss M. He would always "trick" us into offering what he wanted.

BubTar: Drink.
Me: What? Do you want a drink?
BubTar: Okay.

He was always prompting us into saying what he needed us to say. He used to repeat things, too, and we have had many a moment in which we couldn't understand what he was trying to say, but with KayTar it is different. I could reason with him, in spite of his lack of language. There is a barrier in her understanding until she practices hard enough to break through it.

And the CT went well and the results were normal. No physical findings for the sensorineural hearing loss.

OhTheJoys said...

Kyla, this post brought me so close to what you face. Thank you for writing it. - OTJ

natalie said...

We're a few months behind you...M is just 20 months, now. It's interesting to see you write conversations that are so very similar to what I'm doing with a child a few months younger than Kay-Tar. Does that explain that she's just delayed or does she have a processing problem? Is the problem language based or neuro based? I'm intrigued (that's the teacher in me, I suppose!). I'm not really looking for your answer...just questioning. Unless you have an answer, which is always welcome, of course.

You're a great mom. Thanks for your honesty with us--strangers from who-knows-where that really are interested in KayTar. Thanks for sharing the nitty-gritty of day-to-day.