I often tell people that we speak ‘Simon-ese’ around here and they look at me like I’m crazy.

Simon is talking up a storm these days. He’s coming out with new words and phrases almost every day. He’s also branching out in his sentences. Until recently, he was all about the “I want/I don’t want” which is very typical for his stage of language development. However, he’s also now doing “You should” and “This is” sentences, which is all very cool.  He’s trying to sing songs and can now count (and read) up to one hundred.

However, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand what he’s saying.

A lot of times, he’ll be asking or telling us something and we just don’t understand, at which point one of three things will happen: 1) He’ll throw a fit, 2) We’ll eventually figure it out before he throws a fit, or 3) We’ll try to distract him with something else like a book or a toy.

That’s his apraxia talking (pun intended). The signal doesn’t get from his brain to his mouth correctly, so the words can come out garbled or he’ll use the wrong words altogether. Sometimes it’s situational. For example, one of his therapists will tell him to sit with his legs crossed and he’ll repeat “criss-cross applesauce” and it will be clear as day, but when he is asking for an applesauce pouch? It comes out “apple boss”.

With Simon, ‘puzzles’ and ‘pretzels’ sound pretty much the same, and we keep them in roughly the same area (puzzles on top of the fridge, pretzels in the cabinet next to the fridge), so him pointing isn’t particularly helpful. We have just offer both and see what he wants. Usually it’s the pretzels.

Today at lunch, he wanted blueberries with his chicken nuggets. (Don’t get me started on the chicken nuggets. I hate those things, but he won’t eat much else.) But he couldn’t quite say ‘blueberries’, so he was just dancing around the kitchen asking for “chicken and boobies, please.” Hey, at least he’s polite, right?

In addition to apraxia, Simon is also dealing with echolalia. Sometimes, he will repeat what you say if he’s not sure what he’s supposed to say; i.e., you say ‘hi, Simon’ and he’ll say ‘hi, Simon’ right back to you. He knows he’s supposed to say something, he just can’t figure out what.

Sometimes, he uses a word that he associates with an object, even though it may not make sense to anyone else. What do you say when someone is taking a picture of you (in theory, roll with me here, people)? “Cheese!”, right? Then what happens? The flash goes off and there’s a bright light in your eyes, yes? Okay, keep all that in mind. Simon brought home head lice from school. No big deal, we dealt with it, and he was the only one of our kids affected. (I say that very calmly now, but I was in hysterics when I pulled one out of my waist-length hair.) Anyway, I’ve been combing his hair out with the nit comb 3-4 times a day for over a week now, and I use a flashlight to look at his scalp. He really enjoys me doing that, especially since he gets to play with my phone while we do it. One day, he grabbed the comb and yelled “Cheese!” with a big grin on his face. Took me forever to realize that he was talking about the flashlight. He associates bright lights with saying ‘cheese’ and the flashlight is a bright light. So now if you ask him to go find the cheese, he comes back with a flashlight.

(On a side note: During his two lice treatments, he had to wear a shower cap for an hour while the goo did it’s stuff. That’s hard for any little kid to handle, especially an ASD kiddo, so we lifted the TV embargo during those times. He actually handled it really well and was able to transition away from it without issue. Still doesn’t mean he gets to watch it all the time, though.)

He has a set routine of things he’s supposed to say in certain situations. If Adam or I leaves the room, he’ll say “bye-bye, have fun, see you soon” or “daddy go pee. have fun.” He’s also really fond of saying “Damn it, Simon” when he does something he knows he’s not supposed to do.

When he wants to listen to music, he’ll ask for “song in car”, because he knows he gets to pick songs on the way to and from school. His current faves are ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears (“toxin”) and ‘Rapunzel’ by DMB (“unzel”), although he also appreciates “machie man” (‘Macho Man’ by the Village People) and “whoo!” (‘My Sharona’ by The Knack).

This is what I mean by speaking Simon-ese. It’s a whole different language sometimes and you never know when it’s going to change.

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