Remember being a kid?Can you help me understand my daughter?

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jnnsalas
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07 Aug 2008, 2:32 pm

My daughter is 3 years old with autism. She can say two words "Mama" and "Dada", she knows about 35 signs, and she is a PECS-maniac. We talk to her all the time but mostly in a functional way "Put on your shoes", "The food tastes good", etc.... If you had a language delay/disorder when you were young, can you tell me what it was like? It seems like she's processing language (she can follow directions), but I wonder if she'd understand if I talked to her about more complicated ideas. Did it drive you nuts when people asked you questions constantly? What frustrated you specifically about not being able to talk? Did you want people to talk to you about more complex ideas than "these shoes are red"?

Thanks :)



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07 Aug 2008, 2:39 pm

I didn't have a delay, but why don't you ask HER? Maybe she understands FAR more than you think. HECK, I understand FAR more terms than I use. Some are VERY obscure words. Some here speak very little yet must have relatively large vocabularies. In fact, you couldn't easily pick them out on this board through their ability here!



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07 Aug 2008, 2:46 pm

I had a speech disorder to, I did not really have an actual conversation until I was 5 or 6. I remember that the questions were actually a very good thing because alot of times I did want to talk about something but could not decide when to do so. I enjoyed it alot when people did listen to what I had to say although it was quite random most of the time. I did enjoy people who asked me alot of questions about what was on my mind/what I did that day etc.



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07 Aug 2008, 3:00 pm

I think it's a good idea to try more complex stuff; it can't hurt, really. When she was a baby you talked to her even though she didn't have any speech at all. Maybe she'll pick something up, who knows? (The only possible problem I could see would be her getting frustrated at not understanding, but if you see that you can always start using simpler words again.)

Everybody understands more than they say (or, most people, anyway; I guess I can't rule out some exceptions). But think about it: When was the last time you used words like "deluge" or "temerity"? But you probably know what they mean, if you read them or hear them; you may even use them in writing. Most people can understand more than they use in writing, and use in writing more than they use in speech. You can understand more than you say; so why not your daughter?


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07 Aug 2008, 3:06 pm

I don't think I had a language delay, but I did have complicated ideas that surpassed what I was able to express verbally (still do)..um....She is very much in an absorbtion phase..I would say try more complex stuff...it may not be so apparent on the surface, what she is actually absorbing...



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07 Aug 2008, 3:47 pm

I have worked with children both NT and others that had delays. I spoke to them all like they were little adults. If I used a complex word, I would explain it to them and keep going. People understand language in context. If you use more complex language with a child, they pick it up, even if you aren't explaining everything to them.

Now, seeing as how she is only three, you aren't going to go into complex abstact concepts...lol...

Now, this goes for sign language as well, by using it with her, she will learn more.

If she doesn't understand, she'll tune you out. All kids do that.

Good luck!



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07 Aug 2008, 3:58 pm

I didn't have a delay, but didn't understand language well as a toddler.

My mom always just talked a lot to me, even though I didn't baby-talk at all and often appeared to be mentally 'gone somewhere'.

I for example remember that she's tell me when she left the room for a moment, where she'd go and what she'd do and I remember only understanding 1-2 words of it.

Also, when I was about 3-4 years, she still did this and talked a lot, not paying much attention/or questioning me whether I had understood her. (Which I didn't usually when I didn't make a huge effort to pay attention at that age.)

I wasn't bothered by it, except for in kindergarten and with other people.

I say you should just go with what you feel is okay.

You should probably keep the simple statements, and just start to integrate complex language. Every child is different of course and I, for example, didn't throw a tantrum or expressed that I didn't understand something, but some children do with noticeable tantrums, stress or confusion.


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07 Aug 2008, 4:29 pm

My brother has selective mutism, and has done his whole life - not quite the same because he chats away to us like there's no tomorrow, but in some settings he can't talk at all. We find just talking to him normally is the best way to deal with it.

And if she's using PECS then she's obviously understanding some of it; why not just talk to her as if she's understanding and speaking normally? I'll always remember a friend's son who had some massive chromosomal abnormalities and it was always assumed he would never talk/speak/communicate etc. Then one day someone gave him a keyboard and he started typing, and they realised he was fluent in three languages!!


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07 Aug 2008, 4:52 pm

My son has no memory of his speech delay-- he didn't talk until he was five.

My mother denies I had a speech delay but I remember clearly, being in a preschool around age 3 or 4, and not being able to understand the teacher or other children when they spoke. I remember feeling very confused and frustrated.

It could have been that I grew up with two languages in the home, but I remember feeling totally confused by both languages and not understanding what was wanted or required of me when people "made noise" at me.



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07 Aug 2008, 5:19 pm

The only thing I remember was that it was difficult for me to pronounce the "s" sound, so I got regular speech therapy for years. One thing that still drives me nuts is when people talk down to me as if they think my IQ is lower than it actually is, which is above average. The best thing to do is talk to her in a normal manner as she's probably more intelligent than people realize because of the autism.


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07 Aug 2008, 6:46 pm

I didn't learn conversation until people stopped talking to me like I was unable to understand conversation. I distinctly remember a lady saying to someone else in the room. "oh, she don't understand a thing you say, she's a dummy." when I was a child at school. I always wondered how that woman made the assessment when I certainly understood rudeness!

I have no doubt she sees you as a trusted guide, so slowly change your informational verbal input to a conversational one. Don't ask too many times what she wants, because that will sends some of us into a balancing act of sorting out and prioritizing and angst over making the correct decision.

Just talk to her like another person, another adult, so she can get the idea of the ebb and flow of talking with others. We don't become aware of conversation so easily. When we open up we mostly stick to the topic that we know best, us. Unplugged and in your ear!

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07 Aug 2008, 10:19 pm

jnnsalas wrote:
My daughter is 3 years old with autism. She can say two words "Mama" and "Dada", she knows about 35 signs, and she is a PECS-maniac. We talk to her all the time but mostly in a functional way "Put on your shoes", "The food tastes good", etc.... If you had a language delay/disorder when you were young, can you tell me what it was like? It seems like she's processing language (she can follow directions), but I wonder if she'd understand if I talked to her about more complicated ideas. Did it drive you nuts when people asked you questions constantly? What frustrated you specifically about not being able to talk? Did you want people to talk to you about more complex ideas than "these shoes are red"?

Thanks :)


I don't remember my own language delay, all I know is what my mom told me. I couldn't speak, so my mom tried everything, including reading the newspaper to me. One day she sensed that something had "clicked", so she bought me a magnetic whiteboard and a set of plastic letters that stuck to the board (this was around 1977, long before computers) and tried to show me how to spell my name and to tell her yes and no. I immediately started spelling out names of cartoon characters and of retail stores that my mom took me to, like the name of the local hardware store and the local supermarket. My parents had been told that I was mentally retarded. I was about three. I was fascinated by newspapers, I would sit and read them. My parents have photos of me reading the newspaper at about age three and a half. My mom finally took me to speech therapy and it got so I could speak reasonably well. Maybe you could put your daughter on the PC, open up a blank Word document, and tell her to type, or ask her questions. When Sue Rubin's parents did this they found that their "retarded" daughter was actually a genius. Don't worry about HOW she types, just whether she can type something understandable. If she does, you've got a hook for a speech therapist to use.



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07 Aug 2008, 10:56 pm

My speech delay history was different, but I will tell you about it and what my family did and perhaps it will be of some help. I started developing speech normally until about one, then I lost it completely. I didn't make any progress until sometime when I was 3-4, and I only had echolalic speech (not repeating a question and then answering, but solely just repeating the words). When I wanted something I'd point to it. I started speaking when I was about five.

My parents talked to me normally and told me about things throughout my life. Perhaps even if your daughter doesn't get it all, she might start to notice that talking is you trying to tell her about things in her world. I don't remember being very confused or frustrated by my family talking. I probably actually liked it.


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07 Aug 2008, 11:47 pm

I don't think I had any language delays but I think it would be better to start talking to her normally or more complex, unless of course she does seem to get frustrated, maybe then back off a little. I'm not a doctor or professional but I would think that would be better for her in the long run since society doesn't talk the way you are talking to her now. That's what I suggest because she probably does understand more than she appears to.



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08 Aug 2008, 8:02 am

Don't assume that becuase someone is autistic, they are stupid. Even a three year old child.
I agree with others' sentiments. Ask her. Try to speak to her as an adult - when I was small, that's what helped.
I could not understand when people simplified.


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