Years ago I wrote a post titled, Shhhh they can hear you. It was about how if a child is non-verbal, it does not mean they cannot hear (and understand) what you are saying. It is important to remember that our children are always listening. That they might not understand what we always mean and how they interpret what we say can some times be hurtful.
And sometimes it can lead to a comedy of misinformation.
Bridget’s Chicago adventure started innocently enough. She kept telling us she was going to Chicago. We tried to explain that she was not going to Chicago. She was going to bed. Then came the message:
Hi Kerri, Bridget told us you are going to Chicago on Friday. Have a great trip!
Hmmmm okay weird but no. We are not going to Chicago. Next came the email from Bridget’s speech therapist:
Hi KerriWe did lots of conversation before a structured activity. Here is the conversation we had:Me: what are you going to do this weekend?B: I’m going to have Duncan donuts for dinner!Me: Really?B: yep! Put it in microwave and it gets super warm. Chocolate donut THIS BIG! (Stretched both her arms all the way out). It’s huge! Tall!Me: I’ve never seen a donut that big. You cant possibly eat one that big because you’d get sick!B: no I won’t get sick. It’s really good. I love chocolate donuts!Me: what else will you eat this weekend?B: pasta! Mommy makes pasta this big! I put sauce on the side. I don’t like it on top of pasta. Oh Ms X, I’m going to Chicago! Fly on airplane. I won’t be here on Friday because I’m going on a plane to Chicago. Where is Chicago anyway? Where is it on the carpet map? (I have a rug that’s a map of the US on my floor) so I showed her where it was. She went and stood on it and said “its far away…not near sandwich”Me: are you really going to Chicago?B: yep!She told her teachers in Js room that she’s going to Chicago. Y said she was talking about it all day. Amazing language output. Are you going to Chicago?
Oh my gosh it is like the big pickle caper with Bob the bus driver! No we are not going to Chicago! Where the heck would this have come from? A family group text led to the realization that once again Bridget amazes us with her comprehension.
We had our usual family chaos at the holidays. One of our relatives is relocating to Chicago in a few months. All the “boys” were talking about it in the kitchen. Bridget was with them eating her mash potatoes while watching her iPad. No one gave a thought to it.
Until three weeks later at school she is telling everyone all about her upcoming trip. With authority she told everyone she was taking a plane, she realized it was far away from the Cape. The language is unbelievable but also the realization that while she might not understand she is not going to Chicago, she does understand that her cousin is moving closer to her.
So many families give up on speech therapy. It is a long drawn out process that takes years for your child to make the first syllable. You cry at night just wanting your child to say mom or dad. To tell you they love you with words not just signs.
Then 9 years after you start speech therapy your child convinces an entire school system that she is going to Chicago and they understood every word she said.
Every freaking word.
Let that sink in for a minute. Bridget convinced not just her speech therapist, but her ESP, her Gen Ed teacher, her SPED teacher and her friends that she was going to Chicago and they understood every word she said.
Every freaking word.
To those struggling in SPT, do not lose hope. I hope one day you get an email from your child’s school and have to explain that she is lying so bad her nose should be as long as Pinocchios.
Also remember they are always listening, even if they do not always get the facts straight.