Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the power of "uh"

being a speech therapist, i really should know better. no wonder i have a kid who's vocabulary (expressively speaking) is limited to maybe 10 words ("hoops", "ball", and "basketball" being 3 of those 10).
i know that really nothing is wrong with his speech nor his language, at least not in my professional opinion (remember i am a speech therapist that doesn't work with kids at all, rather works with adults who suffer concussions and brain injuries). he does however get a lot of language stimulation from his mom the slp. we read, and read and read. i navigate most of what i'm doing with words (aka, i talk to myself all day). we go new places and try new things. he watches youtube clips of my favorite sesame street episodes, and we play games like up/ down, stop/go, quiet/loud. we sing. he sees me read, and helps me write. i talk over his head, and at his level, and most times in between.
he does however get away with a lot of "uh's". being a speech therapist, working with patient's who can't always put what they want to say in words (aka aphasia), i end up filling in the blanks a lot. im used to reading context and helping them know that someone understands. i particularly skilled at tying abstract thoughts together into something cohesive even with my patients who are non-verbal ("how do you know she just told you we got married at the pavilion near city hall??"). so maybe this is to blame, or maybe i'm just a mom, excited by watching her son understand the world. i can see his connections, can see him understand and remember. see him generalize things that i wouldn't even get right away. it's so fun to watch and to see, so fun that i often jump in and translate. then again, why would he talk if his mom fills in all of the juicy details (between the u----and the----h)
so as an example, we were out at a happy hour last week. there was a band playing (bongo drums, guitar, singer, and bass) in the lobby of this high-end hotel. will was obsessed. he kept pointing to each of the musicians, watching in awe and dancing along (that was until the drunk guy cleared him out- so says chad). later on in the night (the band was on break), will saw a guy with dreadlocks sitting at the bar. he was ecstatic. "uh...uh...uh..." pointing to the guy, and then toward the lobby. (the bongo player had had dreadlocks). the guy looked over to me, and will pointing and "uh'huh'ing!!" the words that almost rolled off my tongue were:
"this is my son, and he noticed your dreadlocks and thought you resembled the bongo player. you see the band is on break, and my son really liked the band, and since you look like the drummer, he's requesting that you go back out and play. he'd really like to dance some more."
luckily i hadn't had anything to drink and my filer was on, such that i didn't interpret my son's "uh" to this total stranger, rather i smiled and asked will to give him a high five. will just kept saying "uh...uh!!!"

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