Tuesday, June 01, 2021

In which Alexander speaks

Alexander has had a major breakthrough in his speech! 

He started using /s/ spontaneously and organically on Sunday, which was a rather amazing thing! We've been practicing saying /s/ for quite some time now but he's never used it, on his own, in context before. And then on Sunday he was just...throwing /s/ in all over the place. And not just /s/, either. He was also using /ch/ and /j/ and all sorts of sounds that he's simply elided before (or substituted with another sound (usually /b/ or /v/).

I woke up from my nap (*yawn*) and Andrew said, "Watch this! Alexander—tell Mom what you were playing downstairs!"

Alexander mumbled something. 

"Say it again," I urged him. "What were you playing downstairs?"

"Dollhouse," he said...with the /s/ (though apparently he wasn't feeling like giving me a full-sentence answer, which is odd because he's a talkative kid).

"You were playing with the dollhouse?"

Later in the afternoon I was playing LEGO with him and he was talking up a storm, throwing in his /s/ sounds all over. 

"Don't do it like that. Do it like this!" he'd tell me. 

And I'd swoon a little because...this!

"I'm going to build the tower. You build a fence!" he'd say.

And I'd feel all giddy because...fence!

Then he said, "We should build a real treehouse! I know we keep a lot of doors in the garage."

First of all, this is true. We took off a lot of our annoying closet doors (because most of them were busted) and put them in a closet in the garage, so we literally have a closet full of doors). Second of all...he said the final syllable of garage!

"Do we have any trapdoors in there?"

DoorSSS! He can pluralize things now?!?

"We don't have any trapdoors in the garage, no."

"Are you sure?"

Sure?!?!? With the /sh/ and everything?!

"I'm positive."

"Too bad."

"Definitely. Definitely too bad."

It's been hilarious to listen to him throwing these now sounds in because he's just...never done it! And it was such a sudden change! And it makes him so much more intelligible. 

Today at the park he kept pointing out all the "," using both /ch/ and /s/ back to back, which was rather a challenge for him (but a challenge he seemed to enjoy because he kept finding ways to alert us about the presence of various benches, which he's never really done before).

He told his sisters that something was "awe...sssssss...ome" this afternoon. 

And this morning he built a Star Wars spaceship, a thing he proudly announced with all the esses and things in place (except the first /s/ in "spaceship," so what he really, ever so carefully, said was, "I made a Star Wars base ship!" but we'll take it)! And his Star Wars spaceship had the ability to go into hyperspace (which he managed to say with both /s/ sounds).

Anyway, he's not consistent in his use of these new sounds yet, but I'm so happy he's finally added them to his repertoire! 

Oh! Oh! Another thing he was saying today was "box!" He's never managed the /x/ sound before, which is really a /k/ and /s/ pronounced together. It can be tricky because /k/ is a velar sound, kind of far back in your mouth, where your soft palate is (#8 on this diagram) and /s/ is alveolar, which is very much toward the front of your mouth, just behind your teeth, kinda where that ridge is (#4 on the diagram). Anyway, Alexander couldn't figure out how to say /k/ at all until recently (that's another sound he's begun using spontaneously after months of speech therapy with Mommy (disclaimer: I'm not a speech therapist, but...I have a bit of linguistic I just used that prior knowledge...along with some advice from our friendly neighbourhood peech pathologist on YouTube).

Okay, I actually created my own way for Alexander to practice /k/ and /g/, which I didn't see on YouTube, but which seemed to work. We just would hold down the front of our tongues with our index fingers, which would make it difficult-to-impossible to default to a /t/ or /d/ sound (since we couldn't lift the front of our tongue) and then practiced and practiced lifting the back part of our tongue until we got the /k/ and /g/ sounds. And by we, I mean he. But I would do it with him because...I'm nice like that.

For a while, he would come to me and say something, like, for example, "I want a real bite!" and when I didn't understand him he repeated himself like, "I want a real biiiii..." and would pause to put his finger in his mouth and finish, "...k!" He thinks he's ready to give up his tricycle; I disagree. But it was sure a cute phase when he was sticking his finger in his mouth every time he needed to say /k/!

Anyway, since Alexander kept talking about this "box" (because boxes are really exciting), I asked him if he could tell me his name and for the first time in his life he said, "Alex" with the /x/! Alex!

So, at 3.5 years old, Alexander can say his (short) name, which is pretty exciting!