He is a mimic, the majority of his speech still echolalic (“Do you want cereal?” I ask. “Want cereal?” he ALWAYS replies…then pauses and answers appropriately) and that can be very tedious. Did you have a sibling growing up that really liked to get your goat by repeating every. single. thing. you said. until you yelled for your mom or dad to make him/her stop?
“STOP COPYING ME” you likely screamed.
“STOP COPYING ME” your sibling sneered.
This is my life. All day, every day.
Me: “Let’s get your shoes and go to the store”
Corrigan :”the store”
Me: “Yep, Mommy needs milk, so what are the rules for store shopping?”
Corrigan: “store shopping?”
Me:” Yes, when we shop, there are rules”
I sigh deeply.
He sighs deeply.
and on, and on, and on.
Lately, I have noticed that he has been mimicking emotions as well. Until recently, another child crying in pain would not register to Corrigan in any fashion. Now, I observe that he indeed notice the upset of another child, but more so in a curious way, not a necessarily empathetic way. I was pleased that he was at least noticing.
There have been a few startling moments, where little glimpses of empathy are seen, such as when I found him watching a video of himself crying, and then saw that he himself was crying tears too. For the most part however, his most recent phase is more echomimic, in that when he sees another child displaying obvious emotion with facial expression changes, he tries to “fake” the emotion. Like language, he now attempts to mimic the expressions that go with the words.
This is good. He is literally teaching himself how to feel.
Lately, I discovered that he is now working on drumming up appropriate facial expressions/behavior to go with his chosen emotion, without example to mimic. (in other words, he was not simply mimicking something in a movie, or on the playground immediately, or during…but later, spontaneously and unprompted under correct circumstances) This is all pretty exciting stuff to me, and also pretty funny.
My best example to date:
It was late Saturday evening, and far past bedtime. I called out to him that it was time for bed. I heard his feet hit the floor in the other room and he ran past me, around the dining room and into a corner of another room to hide. I was drying my hands and grabbing his night formula, and heard him crying hard in the other room. He never gives me any trouble about bedtime, let alone running away from me, so this was all curious. I walked quietly around the corner and slowly approached him in his little corner. His back was mostly to me, and he was sniffling. His cry did not sound forced, or faked, in fact it was his real cry for sure and honest-to-goodness tears were falling down his cheeks. Before I could say a word, to offer him some comfort, he reached both hands up to his face and wiped his tears off onto his fingers. He then slowly raised them up in front of face, stopped crying, stared at his fingers, smiled knowingly and whispered, “Wow, NICE CRYING CORRIGAN.”
Indeed, young man. It is one thing to mimic a facial expression, but those were Oscar-worthy fake tears ya conjured up there, kiddo.
I’ve got my hands full.