This week, we took Thomas to (we hope) his last-ever speech assessment at CHEO. He didn’t make it easy for the therapist to assess him, since he only wanted to talk about trucks and vehicle-related things, but she managed. And it seems he is now fully caught up in terms of vocabulary and the grammar he is using.
This is in contrast to the first appointment, about two years ago, when he was making very few sounds of any kind and not even making any attempts to imitate basic syllables. Even at age two, after Nicholas was born, he wasn’t saying “mama” or “dad.” But now, at nearly three, we have conversations like this:
Thomas: (looking at a book) That’s a BIG TRUCK!!!
Me: Yes, it is.
Thomas: It’s coming towards us!
Me: You’re right!
Thomas: That’s a ball.
Me: Yes, it’s a beach ball.
Thomas: Different colours.
It’s pretty amazing to hear your child saying words and combining them in ways you have no memory of teaching him. It seems clear that during his long silent period, Thomas was absorbing incredible amounts of language information. Which makes sense, now that we know a little more about his personality. He’s quite a cautious little boy. And we always did have the feeling that he understood a lot of what was being said to him, but we (David and I, but me especially) didn’t want to second-guess the experts too much. At any rate, it is a huge relief and a pleasure that he now speaks so well. I suppose things would have worked out all right in the end if we’d never bothered to take him for any of these appointments, but we learned a lot of things that will perhaps be useful when Nicholas starts to learn to talk.
One of the things Thomas likes to talk about these days is the Alphabeasts. These creatures inhabit a big, strange old Victorian house in a book by Wallace Edwards. The animals get up to some strange things:
A is for alligator, awake from a dream
B is for bat, slurping ice cream
C is for cat, who reflects on itself
D is for duck, guarding toys on a shelf
E is for elephant, on the right track
F is for frog, who never looks back
G is for giraffe, minding a tray
H is for hippo, preparing to play
I is for ibis, arranging some pears
J is for jaguar, checking the stairs
K is for kingfisher, the best in the box
L is for lion, styling his locks
M is for mandrill, expecting a call
N is for narwhal, wrapped in a shawl
O is for octopus, changing a light
P is for pig, tucked in for the night
Q is for quetzal, decorating with flowers
R is for rhino, daydreaming for hours
S is for swan, dancing with glee
T is for tarantula, arriving for tea
U is for unicorn, the shyest of beasts
V is for vulture, dying to feast
W is for warthog, feeling under the weather
X is for xenosaur, composing a letter
Y is for yak, seeking a path
Z is for zebra, taking a bath.
It’s a great book with beautiful illustrations, and Thomas likes us to read it to him often. Sometimes when I’m getting Nicholas ready for bed, I can hear him reading it to himself, too. And lately, Thomas has been reciting it to his dad at bedtime. Here’s a recording: Thomas recites Alphabeasts
I highly recommend this book as a gift. The pictures are beautiful, and there’s lots going on in them to keep little minds occupied. A two-year-old couldn’t possibly grasp it all, but from the reviews I read on Amazon, it seems to be quite popular with this age group.
And just for fun, here’s a little recording of last night’s storytime with Dad – Up and Down, by Oliver Jeffers: Thomas reads Up and Down