Ben's doing great with language, but of course there was a time when it was not at all clear that this would be the outcome, and even now we're cautiously optimistic and vigilant. So when you have such concerns about your kid, it's hard not to test him continuously -- "Ben, can you say your ABCs?" "Ben, I hear something -- what is that?" We try to restrain ourselves, and to keep things light and not pressure him to "perform."
An upside to all this is that we're constantly challenging him. We're not afraid to ask him questions that we're pretty sure he can't answer yet, and we make it very clear that it's perfectly okay not to know the answer to something, or not know how to do something. This is an important lesson on its own. Think about how many of us, even as adults, are so ashamed of ignorance on some topic that we try to hide it, thereby missing opportunities to remedy it. Also, it's shocking how many times he does manage to answer the question, even when we weren't expecting it. A very important habit to develop is Wait Time. Ask a question, wait awhile, rephrase it if it looks like he didn't understand it, wait some more, keep the pressure and anxiety level low, keep waiting. Often a minute or more will pass before Ben coughs up an answer, and we would miss that if we butted in too soon. If it becomes clear that he's just not there yet, we'll help him put an answer together, or model one for him.
We had a TOD (Teacher of the Deaf) coming to our house every week for about a year. Her intentions were good, but she wasn't able to do much with Ben, mainly because she just didn't get the Wait Time idea. If he didn't answer within two seconds, she would answer for him, and this just frustrated him to the point that he would cry or tune out.
One final observation: Ben is becoming a real literalist! Either that or he's seized on a great loophole for getting out of having to perform for us. Me: "Ben, can you say, 'Michelle, can I have the puzzle please?'" Ben: "Yes." Technically true, but not what I was looking for.
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