A sensitivity to noise may persist long after the baby years

tick tock

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Spelling Bee or hangman

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times [a day!] Those electronic game devices are the scourge of my life. However, they are the single most motivating force in the boys' lives.

It's hard to pin point which feature is most annoying: the irritating, monotonous tunes that jangle through my brain, the inability of anyone to wear a set of head phones, the squeaks and yells that they utter continuously whilst playing, their meltdowns of frustration as the fight their way up the learning curve of a new game or new level,

Then today, what do I find? I find that the wireless feature, that we parents have been unable to locate, utilize or translate, they discover for themselves. As if this isn't proof enough of their innate abilities, we also learn that they are willing to communicate, one to the other. One draws a little picture with a word or two of description, or a message and then pings it across to the other one. The other one roars with laughter and then returns the favour. Facilitated communication, reciprocal something or other and a whole heap for fun for them both.

Their willingness to communicate in this manner is unprecedented. I am stunned into awestruck silence as I watch them ping back and forth. This heady experience has me dumbstruck until I'm prompted by “how you are spell?”
“How do you spell what dear?”
“How you are spell 'room.'?”
I oblige.
“How you are spell?”
“How do you spell what dear?” The all essential and most elusive skill of referencing back is still missing. Will always be missing. They will never ever put the clue in the question.
“How you are spell 'thank you'?”
I oblige. He opens his mouth to ask another one but I jump right in, “you know instead of saying two sentences, you can just say one and get the answer quicker.”

He looks at me blankly, too many words to process. I try again.
“You could say 'how to you spell……' and then fill in the blank?”
“Fill in the blank? I am not wanting blank?” I bite my lip.
“No……how do you spell Torchic or Treecko or Mudkip. You add the word you want to spell to the question.”
“I am not want spell doze words.” I grab a pad of paper and a pencil. For some reason the written word so often works, where the spoken word is indecipherable. I write it down for my visual learner with dodgy auditory processing skills. He reads with care. I wait.

“So what do you want to spell now?”

He spells it out to me, word by word, syllable by syllable, just to make it clear.
“Er……how you be…….can I be spell……how you are spell….B..I..N..G..O!” he blasts before rolling on the floor in guffaws of laughter.

Oh the misery of it all.

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Pick your poison

“You drink potty water! You drink potty water! You drink potty water!” he giggles. I am uncertain what developmental stage this signifies? I do know that the difference between his chronological age and developmental age is narrowing. I should be celebrating this breakthrough, I think?

Everyone is at home as it is the weekend. The child lacking volume control skips and spins around the room working himself up into a frenzy. I down a bottle of ensure as I don't have the time to create a more interesting liquid. I dither, what should I be doing with whom? He is happy and vaguely foul mouthed. He does have some wiggles to wear off. Which is more important? I tune him out, whilst I listen to the exchange between the other two.

I have no idea how many hundreds of beastly little Pokemons there are in existence, but I know that there are far too many, a bit like dinosaurs, or Thomas and is ever burgeoning army of 'friends.' Pokemons are vile little creatures, most of them sexless. They start life as one thing, say'Pidgey,' and then 'evolve' into a Pidgeotto,' to finally reach the pinnacle of developmental prowess, in the form of 'Pidgeot.' It's enough to drive a mother well away from the nest towards the supermarket to buy more ear plugs.

His sister holds the contraption, the Gameboy. She manipulates it such that each character makes it signature tune. Each Popkemon has their own annoying little ditty. They all sound more or less the same, that would be to say, very annoying, not to over stress the point. They are electronic sound bites, less than a second. She hides the screen from him, “guess it?” she commands.
“Right. You'll know this one too!” I listen.
“Marshstomp!” he snaps back.
“Hey! You won't know this one!” We listen.

They trot through the sounds and matching names for a good 17 minutes. Ordinarily, this would be an example of terminal boredom, perseveration and heaven knows what else.

But of course there is also a flip side, the good stuff, the reciprocal exchange and that truly astonishing auditory memory and processing, from a child that cannot remember the name of the colour 'green.' When he does remember and retrieves the word 'green,' he alters it to a more accurate shade, such as Chartreuse. The fact that he knows them all, can read and pronounce them, has learned their 'qualities and abilites,' with staggering exactitude, leaves me quite breathless.

I won't rush to stock up on ear plugs then.

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Personally, I do not suffer from this affliction. I have the patience of Job. [translation = coming as I do, from a country renowned for their love of their fellow man, as evidenced by their tendency to seek out new lands and colonize them.] British people are well known for their non-judgmental attitude towards all matters of high import. Whilst they also have a tendency to nit pick about matters too petty to mention, overall 'British' is synonymous with tolerance. [translation = a consensus of opinion]
“But I hate dah sweet potatoes!” he bleats. [translation = an improvement of 50 decibel yelling, indicating a capacity to wheedle. {sub translation = much higher functioning level of communication}]

“But they're so good for you, full of vitamin C and a true American food.”
“I am an American?”
“Of course you are.”
“But I fort I wuz dah Californian?” [Translation = how come he can pronounce the 'State' perfectly, but there's not a dipthong within ear-shot = the 'th' sound]?
“You're both, Californian and an American, aren't you the lucky one!”
“I fink I am a worldian. A universian. A galaxian.” [translation = I wish I hadn't taken this route.]
“Anyway, the point is, that you need to eat them for all their Vitimin C.” [translation = pronounced 'vit- i- min –SEE' = UK, as opposed to VITE eR mn SEE = US {sub translation = say them out loud and you'll hear the difference, give it a try, think 'monarchy,' visualize a glittering crown on your head and then speak, and again, but louder this time] Digression over.

“But I hate intimacy!” he blurts. [translation = I didn't even know that he knew that word?]
“Not 'intimacy,' 'vitamin C!'”

So it's not just autism, not just the speech delay, merely an accent that makes
communication so bumpy.

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Incident of Parental Error

I commune with one of my speech delayed sons. He is nearly seven and a half, the big one. His autism complicates his speech delay. He is motivated to speak to me because, like most children, he wants something from me. I already know that he wants to find the case for his computer disc, to keep it safe, to stop it from being damaged. He has learned that 'damage' equates to 'no more play.' Currently he applies this care to his own belongings, but in time he will apply it to other people's property, [translation = generalize] which is good for you too.

“What does it look like dear?” I wait for him to process my words and debate whether it's really worth his effort. I wait, because if I repeat it too soon, the new words will bump into the old words and produce a jumble. I wait. If I rephrase, mistakenly thinking that he's misunderstood, then the two phrases will tangle around each other, slot together in a knot to hide their meaning. I wait. Why should he speak when he can get want he wants by mimicking, gestures and mime?

I know what he wants. He knows that I know. Why don't I just give it to him? That's what a kindly parent should do. Because when I'm in my coffin, I want him to be able to communicate with other people, preferably using words. I wait as he processes and debates simultaneously, because although he may not appear to be multi tasking, he is. I tip the balance in my favour, and prompt him at what I hope is the right time, because I steal information from speech pathologists. “Use your good describing words.” I wait. Our eyes meet, he knows I mean business. I wait. I wait a bit more. I prompt, “is it big or little?”
“It is like dis,” he holds up his hands to illustrate the shape and size of the sought after item.
“Fat or thin?” A choice of options makes it easier for him. His vocabulary is good, [translation = age appropriate] he just has difficulty finding the words, as he has a faulty filing system.
“Fin. It is fin, fin, fin.” How we love categories.
“What colour is it?”
“Er it has no colour, no colour, no colour.” Always in threes, a little echoing loop.
“Is it see through?”
“See fru? What it is, 'see fru?'” That’s not a new word, where can it be hiding in his lexicon?
“Um, I can't think of another word for transparent!”
“Oh! Why din you say dat den, I know transparent! Indeed, why didn't I?
“No, no, no, it not 'trans pah rnt' it is really 'trans PAR ENT!” His discriminatory auditory power, enunciation and diction flaw me. I predict a future career as an elocution teacher.
“No English speaking! Try, try, try again! We are in da America you know!”
As if I'm allowed to forget.

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