Kids really are sponges sometimes. You never know what they pick up on and most of the time you only find out in the most embarrassing moments when they regurgitate it out in public at a not so appropriate forum. Personal experience, trust me!
If we underestimate neurotypical children, we are more guilty of doing so for disabled children. I'm totally at fault for this despite the wonder that Bubby has been in my life. Bubby is still considered non-verbal even though he has a few single words. Many times these words need to be prompted for him to say it but he surprised me the other night and taught me a good lesson.
At church the kids learn songs each year related to the theme. Because he has no voice of his own, I worked hard to find videos, learn and help him sign these songs. He definitely has his favorites and Choose the Right is the one most often requested. We've prompted him so that at the right time he is able to say 'choose' or 'right' (albeit a little delayed) which makes him happy. We'd recently been learning a new song which talks about obedience to God. The chorus is, "I will go, I will do the things the Lord commands". Pumpkin loves the song, it's got a catchy rhythms and melody so I was singing and signing it the other night when I decided to pause at 'go' and see Bubby's response. Clear as can be he yelled, "Go!!" Admittedly I was pretty proud, but it was a familiar word in his small repertoire so I moved on and paused at 'do'. Lo and behold, he changed the shape of his lips and gave a breathy "do". I was a little shocked.
There is something called receptive language and expressive language. For example a stroke victim can understand everything they hear but their expressive language may no longer be there due to their injuries. The word 'do' is not as concrete as 'go' and nothing Bubby has ever used before let alone been coached to use. He has heard me sing the song plenty of times, but I have never paused to have him fill it it. He was mentally singing along with me in order for him to know what was next. Yes there was a delay before he said the word, but the delay was not any longer than typical (the time it takes for his brain to get his lips and tongue to move as he wants let along the breath to push out so the word can be heard) He was right there with me all along!
I had Bud film it the second time. I wondered if it was a fluke, the words are rather similar, but sure enough he did again and has done it many times since.
It has made me wonder what I say about him in his hearing. How often do I lower expectations, when is it reasonable to raise them and when do they become too high. On the other hand, if I don't raise these expectations I'm doing him a disservice. Frankly I know that when I don't raise expectations it's because it's harder - more work for me, more struggles but then there's the other side of the coin, there will be more triumphs and more joy.
I've always need to re-examine myself as a parent, my limited viewpoint and readjust to see more. We all do for all our children but especially those with special needs. As so many say, "Don't limit me!"