Joey had a good speech session today. He's learning sign language. This will give him visual cues, to use when he cannot find words, or for us to use to better communicate with him. HIs favorite sign is "fox." Today, he and Nikki were doing some other things, including looking at some Richard Scary books. He turned to her and signed about what he saw on the page: "The fox ate and ate until he was full!" When Nikki said these words he said, "Yes! That's right!" and laughed, and then repeated them.
I still think most of Joey's speech is scripted or echoed. I usually use "scripted" to mean that he knows what the words mean, and is trying to use previously-heard strings of words to convey meaning, sometimes quite successfully. "Echoed" means the words are empty, repeated because he has learned they are a proper response, but doesn't know what the exchange means; or he just likes the words and says them, perseverating on the sounds; or he is too upset to be able to recall the words he needs, so he repeats back anything his brain clings to, regardless of meaning. He is clever enough to sometimes mix strings, so that one half of the sentence is pulled from Little Bear while the second half is from Pinky Dinky Doo, but they are still just blocks and strings of words he has heard before.
The signs seem to be doing several things for Joey. They give him a visual cue, so that slow sound and language processing can be slightly bypassed. He understands what you are asking of him or telling him. They are also providing him a way to communicate spontaneously, without having to come up with spoken words. He gets very happy about this, like talking about the fox in the picture. He doesn't have to come up with scripted words for a new situation; he can go with signs, movements that he can apparently access better and faster.
So when Nikki was having a hard time getting him to sit an attend, she finally signed her request: sit please! He saw the signs, suddenly lit up, said, "Oh! Sit, please!" and sat down.
Sign language will probably never be Joey's primary form of communication. He speaks very well, and he's well on his way to reading. However, he seems to like it, and seems to be helping him catch on to concepts, and we;re going to try to focus on giving him signs he can use to talk to us, instead of a bunch of signs for us to boss him around with. He's so funny, sitting in front of a mirror, signing "fox" to himself and giggling. I need to get a mirror put up in his room.