Friday, August 31, 2012

I'll Take "'80's to the Rescue" for $1000, Alex

Answer: These two 1980's icons have teamed up to both entertain and improve the speech patterns of one 9 and a half year old Miss Sweetie.

Question: What is the Sony Walkman and Bill Cosby?


Last week we gifted Sweetie with Hubby's old Sony Walkman, along with his large collection of Bill Cosby comedy tapes. Happy back-to-school-and-congratulations-on-being-cast-in-"Oliver!" present! (Sweetie recently tried out and was cast as an orphan in a local production of "Oliver!" We are all very excited.) 

But we have an ulterior motive, as well. 

So far Sweetie has enjoyed listening to 1 whole tape all the way through and has listened and laughed happily. Hubby and I are hoping that, with the help of Mr. Cosby's superb story-telling examples, our Sweetie's own story-telling capabilities will improve.

Now don't get me wrong. Sweetie's speaking issues are pretty mild. It's just that, by listening to other kids about her age speak as well, we can hear that Sweetie just has a bit of trouble finding the right words and telling a cohesive story a lot of the time.

She's not stuttering. But she will start her sentence, realize that (in her mind) she's forgotten (to her) a key word, and will start her whole sentence over from the start so the word can be included. And this may take a few attempts before she's satisfied she's correctly said whatever it is as she intended and she moves on to her next thought. Where the same issue may or may not present itself. Either this, or she stops, searches for the word she's wanting to use, but can't find it and gets frustrated and gives up in tears, saying she doesn't know how to say whatever it is she's trying to say. She is also likely to get lost in her own head when, for example, relaying to us what her dream was last night. I admit, it was near agony for me to listen to her tell me a (what should have been) simple portion of said dream the other day - which should have taken all of 1-2 minutes - over the course of a 10 minute car ride. And she still hadn't finished! Because she kept stopping in her narrative, wherein I'd have to ask if that was all. "No, there's more," she'd say, "I just was remembering how funny it was for a minute." And then she'd go on. With stops and starts along the way.

Will child protection services people come get me if I admit that the sound of my own daughter's voice can sometimes drive me crazy? Arrrrgghhh!

We try to let her work out her stories on her own. We try not to "fill in the blanks" for her as she tells a story so the narrative can keep moving forward. We know her mind is racing faster than her mouth can get the words out. We know she has a lot to say (Lord, does she have a lot to say!).  But it can be difficult to both watch her struggle and listen to her try to, slowly, find her way sometimes.

Yes, it could be just a "thing" that lots of kids go through. Even most kids! And it's not like I expect her to be a fabulous orator, either. But, like I said, it seems to me that most kids around Sweetie's age by this point are pretty well able to tell a smooth, flowing story when they speak on anything from in-class discussions to at-home silliness and everything in between. A late bloomer? Yes, I think so.

As for Sweetie's vocabulary - well! She has always done well there, regularly choosing words you'd most likely not hear the typical same-aged child using. She can be a regular little grown up, in fact, in her contributions to our family discussions and the words she easily chooses to express her opinions. She's a great speller and is more than a couple grade levels ahead of where she "should" be in reading and spelling. So we know she has the words to use - she just has difficulty in getting even the most simple words out sometimes.

I have to say, I'm pretty sure I know where Sweetie "gets" it from. I often find myself searching for words, and/or accidentally using the (completely) wrong word many times when I'm trying to verbally express something. It's so frustrating for me as the one making the "mistakes." I know Sweetie feels at least a bit of frustration, maybe even shame, for what she's dealing with as well. One day, completely out of the blue (but after a little "issue" as she was trying to tell me something), and letting her know that I was absolutely not picking on her - I just was curious to know why it was she always stopped and started many of her sentences over again when she missed only 1 word in what she's trying to say. She instantly had tears in her eyes when she answered, "I don't know. I just see that I'm making a mistake and I want to say it right, so I start over." So, yeah. She knows she does this. Like mother like daughter. Frustrating all around. 

And so, yes... we have turned to Mr. Cosby and his fantastic comedic story telling skills. Wondering if/hoping that Sweetie will take a cue from him and "naturally" improve her speaking patterns. We hunted down Hubby's old Walkman so she'd have something portable and private she could use to listen to these ancient relics called "tapes." And look forward to seeing her enjoy herself along the way.

If nothing else, there is that. Bill Cosby is funny, funny dude. At the very least, she'll get a few laughs out of all this. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.