A pretty consistent part of our life’s journey is a healthy dose of onlookers. We get them for various reasons - whether it be curious, confused, or startled. We get ‘em all. Most often because of our seemingly unexpected noises or behavior, but these days we’ve had a few extra glances for an all-new (non-disruptive) reason.
You see Ad, it's not uncommon to hear you reference me as “Ms. Mom” when you need or want something - leaving most within earshot probably questioning if we actually require such uber proper language in our household (um… we don’t)? While proper and polite grammar is always the goal in teaching our kiddos, this was just the beginning of a conversation language lesson taken to a very literal degree.
It’s no secret the art of language and conversation hasn’t come easy for you, or most on the autism spectrum for that matter, but with a lot of hard work, time and patience, you’ve come a very long way and are improving every day. While most of your beginning language was derived from Disney movies or echolalia of what others would say, you’re slowly learning to form your own thoughts and words now. So much so, that’s it’s even catching the attention of friends and neighbors who can’t help but say something about your tremendous progress in your expanding vocabulary and language skills. That’s happened twice this week alone! Bravo my dear!
This past year in school you learned what I like to call the art of conversation. Ok, it’s not really as fancy as I made it sound, but language generally starts out of necessity, and like most everyone else, that's where you began.
You learned to first identify to whom you were addressing your conversation, then followed with your request. For example, you reference your teacher as Ms. Tio, so you would say “Ms. Tio I want baffroom please” when needing to use the restroom. Once you had mastered this skill – name of whom you were addressing: Ms. Tio, then request: baffroom please, it carried over into all aspects of your life. You had this down perfectly. I say Ms. Tio, then I say my request… and BAM - just like that, needs met!
Now when I say it carried into all aspects of your life it’s true, anyone new entering our home would’ve wondered where this alleged Ms. Tio was hiding and why she wasn’t helping you with anything, because everything from shoes to popcorn became a polite request for the beloved Ms. Tio.
Ms. Tio, I want popcorn, please.
Ms. Tio, I want tubby, please.
Ms. Tio, I need a pink please.
Ms. Tio, I need outside please.
We giggled about it for a little bit, then of course went straight to work with our best attempt at correcting this minor flaw.
When you’d reference Ms.Tio, I would say “I’m not Ms. Tio” to which you would reply, “Ms. I’m not Ms. Tio, I want…”
Correcting you again “No Addie, I am mom”
Still not having had your request (whatever it may have been) met, you'd continue with, “Ms. No Addie, I am mom…”
You get the point, it was like being on a hamster wheel.
With a little more thought on my part into how your mind was breaking down this whole conversation technique I figured out to only say “Mom” when correcting you which led to “Ms. Mom” and my new ever so proper title was born.
While I’d love to claim it all to myself, babysitters, family friends, camp teachers, Clara, Gabe and even daddy have shared this esteemed title surely more than once or twice these days.
Addie, you’re growing and learning more and more every day and while this “Ms. Mom” might be parked in the “conversation starters” section of your brain, for now, one day it will inevitably back out and something new will take its place, leaving another memory for my “remember when” conversations that all of us parents have as we look back on how much our sweet babies have grown.
Until then, “Ms. Mom” loves you very much.
Keep working hard Addie!