But out of curiosity and a burst of confidence, I opened the video. It was this one (and grandmas, please note that it's pretty rough one to watch):
(Note that the video may not appear on mobile devices.)
Things that struck me:
- Man, what complex verbal expressions that boy had. I hadn't remembered that. "Come come come, let's climb this tree, up, get the owl." Sigh.
- What kind of Wild Kingdom voice am I using at the beginning? Groan.
- And most importantly, I sure did speak to Soren differently then.
The change is in part because now I'm not receiving a lot of feedback when I talk to Soren. If I mused about an owl in the tree today, Soren may look where I'm pointing, but only with lots of prompting. He wouldn't attempt to say anything verbally, of course, and he probably wouldn't comment on his iPad that this was an owl, unless directly prompted. And when I'm not receiving feedback on what I say, it becomes a little ridiculous to keep it up. It really is like a monologue. And so I've cut back on the talking to him, and when I do talk to him, it's giving clear instructions, reviewing the day, responding to requests, prepping him for activities to come. I don't tell him what I'm feeling, what I'm expecting, the little things I'm thinking about or maybe that he's thinking about.
I assume he won't understand or won't attend to what I'm saying.
While it's true that we don't know what's changed cognitively with Soren since his language regressions (and maybe there's been cognitive regression or much slowed development), what if he hasn't changed cognitively? What if he's capable of understanding and responding to much more complex thoughts, given enough time? What if I'm talking down to him unnecessarily?
I want to presume competence. I want my language to be a way for him to be exposed to lots of communication, which can only help his. I want my language with him to be above his level, not below it. I never want to talk down to him, and God forbid, I never want him to KNOW I'm talking down to him.
After watching that video, I've resolved to start using more mature language with him even when I don't get a response. It may mean that sentences are left hanging. I need to get comfortable with these silences and lack of reciprocation. It's not about me and how that silence feels awkward or futile. It's about Soren and his wide world of language. It's expecting big things from him.
And now I think I'm going to go talk to him about the steller's jay I saw in the backyard today. Maybe I'll remind him about that owl we saw so long ago.