Jake’s speech is an amazingly colourful, rollercoaster mixture of repeated words, whole scenes from TV programmes and films, and the odd tantalising moments of real-time lucidity.
He can roll out great chunks of Peppa Pig episodes. Word perfect.
Sometimes, it’ll be months later when you hear a phrase in a kids’ TV programme and you’ll shout ‘So that’s where Jake got that from!’.
Often, the repeated scenes are accompanied by some hand-flapping and charging up and down the room. The hand-flapping is a bit of a fascination. Sometimes, it’s like his hands are the mouths of other characters in the scene. Sometimes, it’s like he’s just enjoying the light flickering in between his fingers.
Jake’s speech is gloriously non-filter.
His lovely teaching assistant is still dining off the day that Jake greeted her with a cheery ‘Hey, dirty lady!’. It’s only our closest, most resilient friends who don’t take the odd ‘Argh! Get away, scary monster!’ too much to heart. Or want to step cautiously away when Jake screams ‘Mum, it’s time to start the initiation!’.
When Jake is busy recreating a scene, it can take a while for him to notice you. Persistence can eventually get his attention, but wouldn’t, for example, stop him in his tracks if he was wandering somewhere that he shouldn’t.
A typical exchange this morning:
Me: Jake, what would you like for breakfast?
Jake: Five little alphabets jumping on the bed.
Me (dropping down to his eye level): Jake, what would you like for breakfast?
Jake: Well done, Pedro! You found them!
Me: Jake? Rice crispies or shreddies?
Jake: I’m a bit scared
Me: It’s OK. Would you like rice crispies or shreddies?
Jake: DON’T WORRY, PEPPA!!!
Me (holding up cereal boxes): Jake? Rice crispies? Shreddies?
Jake: Oh Daddy Pig, the wall has a giant hole in it! Erm, shreddies. Thanks Dad.
Jake loves words and he loves the way that they sound. It’s like he’s playing and replaying them out loud to test what they sound like, and to almost see how the letters flow and meld together. One of his favourite possessions is an alphabet of those colourful magnetic letters that you see stuck on fridges. He carries them around in a really cheap tin treasure chest that once held chocolate and looks as if it may now contain a loved one’s ashes.
Only upper case letters of course. Nothing funny.
He will happily spend ages laying out the letters in alphabetical order on the carpet, sometimes rubbing the plastic against his cheek and then holding it up to the light. He’ll sing ‘Five Little Letters jumping on the bed’ to himself or another alphabet song that he’s heard at school or via YouTube.
Two years ago, we wouldn’t have thought that he’d have made the progress he has. Jake is using more sentences in the right context these days, and is more likely to ask for more milk than drag us bodily to the fridge. We hope that his love of language bodes well for the future, and will continue to grow into something that will help him communicate even more effectively.