Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leap!

Theo made a huge mental leap this week.

Theo has understood nearly everything we say for a while now. He vocalizes, mostly with "ba" "ga" and variations thereof. This week, he's been making more of an effort to imitate.

While putting his hands in my dad's fish tanks, we got him to say "fsh" over and over. There was one distinct "Ga-pa!" when Grandpa walked in. On another day, when I repeatedly told him not to touch something, he clearly said "Don' tahch!" which nearly knocked me over. When he made blowing noises ("fffssss") to indicate bubbles, I told him he had to say "Bubbles" to get it. He switched from the hissing to "ba" much more quickly than he has before.

We've been saying words slowly with exaggerated syllables for ages. Lately I've been pointing to my mouth and Theo's mouth in turn, saying "Theo's turn", which tends to work in more physical imitations. Usually he just giggles at the prospect but now he sometimes pauses and watches carefully. It's still a rare event to get a real result but it's much more common than it was.

Moving closer to speech is not the only leap he made this weekend. It seems like a whole slew of mental operations kicked into place at once.

I can't say he's patient, but he now seems to understand that things take time. I've always attempted to tell him that his food is almost ready or that I need to find my shoes before we can go outside. The difference is that now, he might actually stop whining and waits quietly. If he's in a bad mood, forget it.

We popped outside for a walk the other day and I realized I need to jump back inside for my keys. Theo was already gesturing towards a pathway when I got his attention and told him firmly to wait right there. The second time I said it, he gestured downward and stopped wiggling. I let him out of my sight for probably 5 seconds, but still, to come back out and see him still motionless and looking expectantly for my return was quite a coup.

Just today I wanted Theo to clean up his blocks, so I told him that after we were done cleaning, we could watch his favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba. I said it a few times to get the meaning clear to him, and then I saw the light bulb go off in his head. He then cleaned up all the blocks, one after the other, which is totally unprecedented. As he dropped the last one in the box he said "Uh Gah Gah?" He was right on track.

It's not all good news...he's begun hitting people when he gets frustrated, which we handle sternly. He's also lost another layer of gullibility. Getting Theo away from whatever he's doing for a diaper change or other unwanted intrusion is tougher all the time. I used to catch Theo off guard by saying "Hey, let's do a diaper" and then grabbed him while he paused. Now, he focuses better, and knows this trick too well.

Every time he makes one of these jumps it shows me how many levels there are to consciousness. I often said that Theo was "very aware" from the moment he was born, and he definitely was, but awareness has many facets.

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