Tuesday, 14 April 2015

"Dink!"

Adam is making some really exciting steps forward in communicating what he wants and asking for it.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, Adam showed no ability to tell us when he was hungry or thirsty or to show us what he wanted to play with, other than dragging us over to it (or screaming if he couldn't find it).  If I offered him a drink (speaking and signing the word) or the opportunity to eat, he would sometimes repeat it back to me, but he couldn't take the initiative to ask me for it in the first place.

But last week, completely out of the blue, Adam came over to me and looked like he was concentrating on something.  I watched him and waited until suddenly, he looked up at me and said, "Dink!"  At first, I wasn't sure what he had said as it was quite blurred but then he repeated it and when I said and signed back to him, "Adam do you want a Drink?" (putting a strong emphasis on the key word) he got all excited and repeated "Dink!"  When I gave him a cup of his milk/smoothie drink, he absolutely guzzled it down.

Then, a few days later, when I was picking him up from nursery, one of the workers told me they had been playing outside and Adam ran up to her saying, "Red!" At first she didn't know what he was referring to but then he tugged her towards the cupboard where the toys are stored (he normally completely ignores it) and once she was standing in front of it, he said, "Red!" again.  She looked inside and saw that there was a red trike visible behind a blue trike.  So she asked him, "Adam, do you want the red bike?"  He got all excited and started shouting, "Red!  Red!  Red!"  When she pulled the trike out of the cupboard, he climbed onto it and happily played for the next half an hour.

A couple of days after this, I was standing in the kitchen and getting Adam's dinner out of the oven, just before leaving for a meeting.  Adam left the lounge where he had been watching TV with his Dad and came to lean against the baby gate, peering up at me.  He watched me for a minute and then said, in a questioning voice, "Eat?"  I turned to him and said, "Adam, are you ready to eat?"  He gave me a big grin and repeated firmly, "Eat!" before running back to the TV.

On another evening, I was sitting at the table with Adam as he ate his dinner and he leaned over, grabbed my hand and tugged it towards his ear.  He pressed my hand against his hearing aid where I noticed that the pipe which connects the hearing aid to the ear mould had come loose.  I quickly reattached them saying, "Mummy fix!" 

In one final example, Chris told me that Adam had been playing on the trampoline in bare feet.  After a while, he sat down and his feet caught his attention.  He sat there examining them.  He looked at the sole of one foot, which was very dirty.  Then he turned his foot over and examined the top of his foot, which was clean.  He turned his feet over a few times, carefully examining the difference and then finally, pushed his foot over to Chris.  Adam didn't say anything, just offered his foot, but that simple moment of self awareness is huge - and it's new.

Each one of these events are quite small and simple.  For some, they may seem unremarkable because by the age of four, most children can speak in full sentences and easily convey what they want and need.  But this is not the case with Adam, up until now he has never been able to tell me that he is hungry or thirsty or that something is "wrong" in his world, he generally just starts crying, screaming or throwing toys and I have to run through a list of possibilities asking him each one until I find the clue - a slight moment of calmer behaviour, a moment of eye contact or very occasionally, a repeat of the word I have offered to him.  

So for Adam to understand what he wants or needs and then to be able to communicate it to me or to other adults caring for him is absolutely extraordinary.  It's a huge step forward.  There are of course still many things he cannot do - for example, any sense of "wet" or "dirty" to indicate the need for a nappy change is still absent - but these small steps indicate huge progress and they are so exciting.