Feed on

Language Remediation

About a week ago, Simon uttered his first subject-verb-object sentence that did not start “I need”*. He was watching Curious George when he looked over at Matt and helpfully explained “Monkey see clock.”

The sentences have been coming fast and furious since then. He’s told us when Wall-E is scared, when planes go overhead, and what he’s enjoyed playing with. We’re communicating better than ever, but also realize that Simon speaks a unique idiolect others would not know.

For example, “dee-dee” is red, “Hankah” is helicopter, “Ta-ta” is Thomas, “why-da” is yellow, “see bar” is fruit bar, “bun” is vitamin, Curious George is most often “monkey” and occasionally “monkey Dooge”, and the plural of deer is “deers.” We understand how and why each of these coinages came about, even the ones that make no sense to outsiders.

What we don’t know is whether we should subtly correct him, as in “No Simon, you already had your vitamin today”; correct him directly, as in “You mean ‘helicopter’ Simon, not ‘hankah’ but ‘helicopter'; or go along with him, as in “Simon, do you want to play with dee-dee car?”

I’m guessing that subtle correction is the best route, and I do that at times. I never directly correct because I’m wary of discouraging Simon from his efforts. And frankly, it seems churlish when I understand him and he’s come so far. But the unfortunate truth is that I also go along at times, because Simon’s speech is cute, because his own coinages fascinate me with what they demonstrate about language acquisition, and because it’s fun to share a secret language with him.

There’s probably guidance on this somewhere, and I’ll look for it and follow it soon enough. But when Simon is all grown up in mind and body, I know I’m going to miss hearing about “dee-dee hankah” and “why-da car” very much.

* Previous to this Simon’s most complicated sentences have been things like “I need help play car” or “I need fruit bar.” Next up, we teach him the difference between “want” and “need.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.