I often hear parents mention how much work and practice goes into building meaningful communication with their children with Down syndrome. I've heard again and again that it often requires significant purposeful practice to get to the point of regularly and effectively communicating desires, needs, or feelings, often even after a child has the building blocks to do so.
And it certainly is so with Cora. But sometimes I wonder why it is such a process.
Take this morning for example. Cora definitely has the language skills to tell me what she wants to eat. She had finished most of her breakfast but still seemed hungry, so I asked her what she wanted to eat.
First she signed "fruit." So I said, "Ok, fruit" and started to get her favorite fruit sauce. She immediately starts shaking her head, saying "Uh uh! Uh uh! Uh uh!" and signing "no fruit."
Then she says "pbpbpbpbpbmmmoooodeeeeee," which is her word for smoothie. When I reach for her smoothie she again tells me no.
Finally she signs "yogurt" so I ask her if she really wants yogurt. She gives me her "yes"face with an enormous grin and then signs "yes." Of course she immediately launches into a drawn-out, smiley "no", but it's the one that she uses when playing.
So yes, she really wanted yogurt.
So if she has the tools to tell me, why is it such a process? It's like this so often. She either doesn't respond, repeats my questions back to me through sign, or she uses her signs and words, but runs through a long list of options before finally clueing me in, like today. It doesn't feel like a game and I don't feel like she's just indecisive. Maybe she is simply practicing.
I know that she understands the words. I know that she can communicate what she wants. But sometimes drawing it out of her is painfully slow. Where is the disconnect? How much of it is the innate contrary nature of a two-year-old, and how much of it is part of the mysterious effect of her extra chromosome?
Either way, it doesn't change the fact that it doesn't come easily. I see that she is learning and making progress, but all this patience is tiring me out.