As I told you all on my last post, Guto’s vocabulary had grown quite a bit. I am not sure how much of it he really understands what he is saying and how much is just repetition. Here is some known forms of communication that usually go along with autism.
Echolalia or scripting
Echolalia/Scripting is the repetition of phrases, words or parts of words. Echolalia may be a sign of autism, another neurological condition, a visual impairment or a developmental disability. Almost all toddlers go through a stage in which they “parrot” words and phrases that they overhear. Mimicry is an efficient way to experiment with different sounds and practice emerging social language skills. This is a normal and critical stage in language development.
When a person repeats back something that he or she has just heard, that is immediate echolalia. For example, if a parent says, “It’s time for a bath,” the child may repeat, “Time for a bath.” It is believed that by repeating back the words, the child is demonstrating that she can hear accurately, can physically produce speech and can remember it long enough to reproduce it. The next step is comprehension of speech, which may take months or years to develop.
Many people like to memorize and recite “catch phrases,” or sometimes whole paragraphs – perhaps scriptural verses, inspirational or historic speeches, or funny scenes from the movies. As long as the phrases are repeated in an appropriate social context, this is a widely accepted social behavior. Delayed echolalia is the repetition of phrases after a period of time – several minutes or a year after the phrase was originally heard – and the phrases may pop up any time, any place.
Echolalia/Scripting was once thought to be non-functional, but is now understood to often serve a communicative or regulatory purpose for the child.
I have been writing about random things regarding Guto trying to get a picture of what his behavior is on different situations in an attempt to show how different he really is from a typical child. I have never been around any autistic person so I am trying to give everyone an idea of what it is for us, as you may not have anybody close to you in the spectrum either. Since we have started therapy 6 months ago, I think it is time for a more medical type post.
Guto started speech therapy in mid april of 2016, he was getting 60 minutes a week of therapy. Not long after he started, in mid June we went to Brazil so he was out of therapy for a month. A couple of weeks after we got back from our trip he started going to therapy for 90 minutes and got a new therapist since his initial therapist was out on maternity leave.
After only 6 months I can definitely see a gigantic progress on Guto’s communication skills. When we started therapy he had less than 5 words in his vocabulary and now here is the list of words he is saying, though some words his pronunciation is not 100%, but you can definitely understand what he is saying.
– he can count to 10 (in Portuguese and English)
– he says the colors blue, yellow, orange, black, pink and green
– he sings the ABC’s
– Mickey Mouse – Miska, Muska, Mickey Mouse 🙂
– Agua (water in Portuguese)
– Mais (more in Portuguese)
– Acabou (all gone in Portuguese)
– Ball and Bola
– Macarrao (pasta)
– Vovo (grandma in Portuguese)
– Thank you
– Sapato (shoes in Portuguese)
– And his latest word was Mamae (mommy in Portuguese). I almost had a heart attack when he said it for the first time! <3
In therapy he is combining two words like blue ball.
He is making some sounds like tchu tchu when playing with a train, or bi bi with a car.
He is imitating a lot more and "singing" some songs. He is the cutest thing singing twinkle twinkle little star and he loves the Jacarelvis DVD.
His eye contact is getting better with other people, I never had any issues, I never noticed poor eye contact since he always had good eye contact with me.
He answers to his name (Gustavo and Guto) almost half of the time!
He has been more aware of his needs. This is a big deal since he would never show signs of thirst or hunger and that really scared me as he would go hours without eating or drinking unless we offered him something. Now he will take us to the kitchen and show us what he wants to eat and say water when he wants something to drink.
Everyone is very pleased with his progress so far, I am so thankful for his therapist, she has been awesome. I know a lot of people are against the use of electronics for long periods of time, but I do believe a lot of Guto's progress were also made through the videos he watches on his ipad or the TV show he likes. No doubt he spends more than 30 minutes a day (what is recommended for his age) on those kinds of activities.
To me all of these small steps are amazing and every time he says a new word or does something he was not doing before is a big celebration. I can't wait to see the changes he will have in the next 6 months.