Cedar, who most of you know has ASD, will be four this month, and still doesn’t really talk. He counts, and based on his play with number cut-outs he can order number symbols. The other day he read the time off a digital clock, though with 3, 6 not 36. And the other day he repeated “[Cedar], get down” when we told him to get off a coffee table.
He names colors too. It’s funny because there’s a little girl who is a year ahead of him at church, who was a prodigious talker in nursery, but her mom posted on facebook that she doesn’t know her colors. So you just never know with kids.
Something I ran across the other day was that Hekka had a 4 word rotating vocab at this age. Cedars is more like 2 words, but I’d forgotten Hekka doing anything like that.
Yesterday I realized why Cedar says “six” with two syllables. He’s epenthesizing the /ks/. Though he doesn’t say it clearly enough that it was obvious that was the case. My oldest did some weird syllabification too.
Sputnik was my only kid to do any talking that young. He could talk pretty well before he got around to walking.
Something The Autistic Brain mentioned is that Temple Grandin couldn’t make out voiceless stops when she was little. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and realized that all the easy to make sounds are hard to hear, and vice versa. Mama, for instance, requires nasalization as well as oral articulation. And looking at someone, it’s the same lip movements as baba.
The pyschologist who diagnosed Cedar felt there were at least 3 varieties of Autism (the first time I talked to him, before he was obligated to stick to the DSM5) which might correlate with Temple Grandin’s 3 types: Fact-word, Picture connectors, and picture pattern thinkers. (I might be all three and a couple others). The 3 types we discussed (when he found out I was a linguist) had to do with age of catching up: preschool, first grade, and 5th grade. Which is interesting to consider relative to Piaget’s stages.
Cedar is starting to repeat more things from videos. I bet he said 12 different utterances from Bolt yesterday, and he just tried to do the opening call from the Lion King.
Here’s something I wrote previously about it:
I looked it up and it appears the person I was assisting worked in autosegmental phonology, even though there was reference to The Sound Pattern of English.
Here’s an interesting bit, to me dealing with a language delayed child:
1. the features or feature-complexes which are independent in child-speech should be precisely those which may be autosegmental in adult grammar;
2. The process of language acquisition includes a task of “deautosegmentalization” or to use a less awkward term, restructuring of phonetics into linear segments….
http://hum.uchicago.edu/~jagoldsm/Papers/AimsAutosegmental.pdf pg 215 (This isn’t the person I assisted, this is someone else’s paper but recruits many references that are familiar to me.)
This is interesting because children with the syndrome formerly known as Asperger’s seem to adopt an expanded tier of interpretation. It appears they process language on the phrase or sentence level rather than the word level, evidenced by a burst of language around age 3, sometimes talking in full sentences all at once. The tendency to repeat entire phrases (often from books or TV) persists, and the difficulty in analyzing intention could also support this idea.
I am starting to wonder if Cedar can hear well. He is doing more imitation. He clapped hands when Hekka did this morning, and he was just imitating the faces Mack makes in Cars (reflected on the shiny truck). He also sings something resembling “I am a child of God”. He used to hum the chorus, but now he’s trying to sing the whole thing, kind of emphasizing the end rhymes.
He passed the sound booth when he was 2, but more recently he wasn’t responsive to the booth, and the gold standard oto acoustic emissions test doesn’t seem possible without anesthesia (the child has to be quiet during the test, and he hates stuff in his ears). I guess I can ask our pediatrician about a prescription strength sedative, or if general anesthesia is a better idea. It just seems kind of extreme. It makes me feel very helpless and angry.
He’s done 3 encouraging things today. He said “Hi” back to me when he woke up, tried to sing the ABC song (again, the rhymey parts) and has copied several small words. I remembered too something Temple Grandin said about processing delays that make it hard for people with autism to distinguish voiceless stops. That could also be causing his mushmouth.
Today Cedar was using Starfall, and he said something for every color, which was new. He said “green” pretty clearly, apple for purple, and “ra” for red, though
Cedar said “ready, set… go” several times at the store tonight. He also called tomatoes “red” and half sang brahms lullabye with usmost of the other colors didn’t sound much like the modeled word. He’s really trying to imitate with me or with videos, just lots of stuff, and it’s very encouraging.
Now that Cedar does a reasonable approximation of banana, his speech is a lot like a minion. Before this, he sounded a lot like a simultaneous translator for zebras and dilophosaurs. I should try and get some video before that phase is gone.