Corrigan has many “voices” that he uses to communicate. His regular speaking voice is still rather high-pitched and sounds younger than he is but his “real” voice is much deeper. Because Corrigan is a late-talker, and because of some other issues, his speech takes on the tone and inflection of the person that most frequently uses the phrase, and because he spends the majority of his time speaking with women, his regular voice tends to be higher pitched. However, if you tip-toe up to his room when he is deep into imaginative play, and he is not using repeated phrases but instead is using jargon, you would hear that his voice is actually much deeper.
Corrigan repeats phrases, complete with observed inflection, but he does not just repeat the phrases willy-nilly (that’s a technical term, you know). He uses his repeated phrases in appropriate context nearly all of the time, which is very encouraging, and because he also repeats his phrases with the tone used by the speaker, I often get a little chuckle. In the course of an evening he will repeat many things that he either overheard, or had spoken directly to him, during his school day.
He has “yelled” at his toys in the exact same tone of voice, in the exact same phrasing, even using the name of the classmate on the receiving end. When he drops something, he says “oh myyyyyy” the same way as someone in school. He also uses tons of “praise phrases” throughout the day, which is wonderful because it means that he must hear them often.
“Atta boy Corrigan, try again!” he will say when he is trying to throw a ball UP a flight of stairs.
“Here’s the button. One finger. Just press one time!” he will say out loud when he plays with certain toys that have parts to press.
“Squeeze, you can do it. Very good!” when he sees me holding a pair of scissors.
“No crying, sit down, that’s enough” he says, when I ask him what is the matter and he knows that I am about to ask him to calm down.
This mimic-phase means that all of us have to be very mindful of the words that we use, and I imagine he uses phrases he hears at home while in school too, which definitely makes me more careful too. He also studies facial expressions and is kind of a tender-heart when it comes to angry faces so I have worked hard at keeping my face either neutral or kind when I speak to him. I save my angry face/voice for those times that he really needs it (like when he slipped out of the front door and was on my front porch without permission) and it really helps to hammer a point home. He will not often repeat a negative behavior if the behavior made Mommy raise her voice. He remembers and prefers smiles.
I prefer smiling too!
I am still holding out hope that one day we will be able to have a back-and-forth conversation with Corrigan though looking back at old video, and seeing how amazingly far he has come with his speech and communication skills, I can’t hardly complain. He uses enough verbal speech now that I could almost leave him with anyone at all and he could at least convey his basic needs. That is a huge difference from just nine months ago and he is improving daily.
Spontaneous, fluid speech in proper context. That’s all I want for Christmas.
Baby step #1: He was in the shower today and I left the bathroom. When I came back in to check on him, he was standing outside of the tub waiting for me. When he saw me he said, completely unprompted, “THAT RAIN IS HOT!”
and by golly, when I reached into the shower, the temp was considerably warmer than what I had set it for. He clearly and concisely communicated, out of the blue, that he needed me to fix the shower temperature! I am sure he was completely confused as to why I was squealing and clapping at his simple statement.
As long as we are making progress, I am pleased. Very pleased!