Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Nate Has Something to Say

So I think I have mentioned before that delayed speech in autism is not necessarily about an inability to speak, but a lack of understanding of the purpose of speech, of communication in general.  Basically, what's in it for me?  Nate has definitely fallen into this category for a while now.  I used to say to his initial infants and toddlers visiting therapist that I just didn't understand why he wouldn't repeat me.  Well what was saying "duck" gonna do for him?  Not a whole lotta. 

That's why the first stage of speech development is called the own agenda stage.  Basically the child has their own plans and if communicating with you doesn't make them happen then pooh on you.  Many kids with autism stay in this stage a long long time, and Nate was no exception.  The next stage is called the requester stage.  Nate has been in this spot for at least 6 months now.  So the main time he wants to and understands that he needs to communicate is when he wants or needs something.  It all started with a simple little word called "more".  He has gotten more and more assertive with letting us know, from walking over to us and saying more, to grabbing our hand, turning it palm up, and putting his cup in it, to now grabbing our hand, pulling us out of our chairs and to the area where the desired object is.  This is part of why pointing is also such an important precursor to speech as well- it is evidence that the child gets that they need to let the person know what they want or they won't get it.  Pointing gets frustrating after awhile, believe me, my mother in law listened to me say "this? this? this?" for a good 15 minutes the last time she was here for dinner.  After all of that time I finally figured out he wanted a frozen waffle.  Yes, I am a genius, ha.

So what we have been waiting for with baited breath is the early communicator stage.  The point where the child is starting to talk for reasons other than physical needs.  It's coming, I can taste it.  And this morning I got a good sampling.  I always talk to Nate about the bus in the morning, seeing "Mr. Sam" the bus aid and "Miss Robin" his teacher.  This morning as I was talking about it he looked right at me and said "Nate, bus".  Right after I fell out of my chair, I said yes, that's right.  Then he looked at me and said "mama, byebye".  Then he started crying and saying "ma, no bye". 

This is huge.  He also has said "Annie" for the sitter and supposedly "Riley" for our dog- although I missed that one.  I am praying this amazing trend continues....


  1. This is very interesting. Sophie is at the requester stage then. We are waiting with bated breath for the early communicator too! Oh, that would be just amazing... The closest she comes is reacting to something on her show and looking at us if we saw it with an expectant expression, like "did you see that?!". Its wonderful about Nate. I really enjoy your blog btw.

  2. That is fantastic news. It's interesting to hear those stages---I haven't heard it before. Janey seems to be permanently stuck in the requester stage. We almost never hear anything that is early communicator stage. It would be extremely rare for her to say anything like what Nate did---to actually communicate feelings like. She might repeat most of the text of a video, or all of the lyrics of a song, but they don't communicate much! Great to hear about Nate saying that!

  3. I am fortunate enough to live in a school district that offers the following program to parents of young children on the spectrum:


    That's where I learned about the stages of communication. I would very strongly suggest you look into the program, and if there isn't anything available near you, you can buy the book on amazon. I wouldn't say that the class necessarily got Nate talking a bunch more but it certainly helped me understand so much more about his development, what to expect, what to push for. Really really interesting and inspiring stuff!