One of the most interesting things about having the talker is discovering how much Archie already knows. Today, for example we found out that he understands the concept of ‘silly’ and indeed finds it hilarious. Apparently (according to him) he was silly at school today (which has caused much hilarity) and he was pretending to do silly things (such as pretending to eat sweets) – and describing his actions as being silly.
The first time this happened – a sudden realisation that Archie understood and knew a lot more than we realised – was when he started to use google maps. I’d shown him our old house in London and he spent a lot of time showing me old friend’s houses and where he used to swim, and an ambulance station he remembered (and I had completely forgotten). This was pretty remarkable given that he left London when he was two and has never been back.
Google maps remains a favourite pastime. The level of detail he spots is pretty incredible.
Although it can also be a useful communication aid. The following video shows him finding a friend’s house (he’d been there once several months before) and he’ll now find it to ask to go and visit. It’s a bit long winded compared to the talker but does the job.
He’s now also combining talker and google maps. So he’ll find me something that has changed (such as a lamppost) since google maps was produced and use the talker to tell me about it. He’s sharing interests.
I do sometimes wonder how long Archie has understood this much. Until google maps we had no idea he remembered living in London. Until google maps was produced I had no idea he spotted every changed lamppost and painted garage door in our city. Until we had the talker I had no idea that he understood the word silly, or knew the days of the week, or understood the words sore and hospital.
It raises many questions about our assumptions when we interact with people with severe communication disorders. It puts me in mind of one of my favourite poems:
Silent but (by Shigeji Tsuboi)
I may be silent,
but I’m thinking.
I may not talk,
but don’t mistake me for a wall.