The Peanut has an obsession for the written word lately. As his verbal skills increase, he seems equally determined to learn more about the written word and speak those written words aloud (as our recent experience with Candy Crush attests.) The Missus and I have encouraged this exploration whenever possible; with the developmental apraxia we want to open as many avenues for communication as we can. We include the Peanut in the reading of bedtime stories like Goodnight Moon by making him finish phrases or sentences by speaking aloud instead of us.
There are small signs that these efforts are paying off. I sometimes let the Peanut watch an episode or two of Chuggington (his favorite) on Netflix while the Missus is at the gym in the morning. Since he picked up most of the numbers below 20 several months ago, I can ask him which episode he wants to watch and he usually answers with a number. Most often it’s 1 because he likes to binge watch from the beginning of seasons, at least until this morning. Today, I asked what episode he wanted to watch and he said “Snowstruck Wilson” in a fairly firm, clear voice (Season 2, Episode 1.)
The Peanut also upped his game in another way this morning. The Peanut insisted on constructing this, based entirely on his own initiative:
It took a while, with some anxiety along the way, and he needed some help to get it to look right.
Here’s how it happened: the Peanut got some new wooden train cars, buildings, and track yesterday and was playing with them on the Pakastani rug with have in the living room. He asked me to name the types of each of the freight cars in the train a couple times, much as we do for one of the trains in Trains, one of his favorite bedtime books. After doing that for second or third time, he suddenly got up and went to his room. I then heard the Missus saying “Peanut, what are you doing with that? Peanut, why are you taking it to the living room?” from one of the back bedrooms with no answer. I then turned around to see that he was bringing his collection of alphabet blocks to the living room.
Once he got them to the Pakastani rug, he immediately started getting individual blocks and laid them out in this pattern:
T R S I N
I pretty quickly got the idea that he was spelling out “train” but got one of the letters wrong (which I fixed). After telling the Missus about this, I returned to the living room and he was trying to spell out something else, but was getting frustrated because he couldn’t find the letters he needed. I asked him what he was trying to spell, and he said something like “arton”. Since he has trouble saying “b” sounds, I pretty quickly got the idea and added an “S” to the “TRAIN”.
Knowing that the Missus made up a bunch of laminated paper letters a while back to help him learn the alphabet, I immediately started to looking around for those. I eventually found them on top of a nearby media cabinet. Once I did, I tried laying them down on the floor in a mess to get the Peanut to spell “Barton” but the Peanut seemed put off because they weren’t the same as the blocks. He also kept pointing to an empty spot on the floor and saying something that sounded kind of like the word “by”.
I decided to take a different tack after a couple minutes. I went to his room and found the book. Maybe he wanted me to read it to him? A small amount of frustration followed once I returned to the living room. No, reading it was not what the Peanut wanted to do. I put the book down on the floor and picked up all the paper letters.
Once I did, the Peanut looked the cover and began his spelling efforts again. He immediately started taking blocks and spelled out “B Y R” under “TRAINS”. Aha! I helped him find an “O” but we were unable to find another “N” (it’s on the other side of the “A” block). Another small amount of frustration on the Peanut’s part followed.
Finally, I got the paper letters out again and this time they were well received. Once I pulled an “N” out of the pile, the Peanut placed it after the “O”. After that, I tried to locate the next letter that the Peanut needed and he would pick it up, check the spelling on the cover of the book, and then put it in the right place.
Once we finished spelling out the title and author of the book, the Peanut had me read the book to him and all was smiles.