Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Say It Ain’t So

with 10 comments

Pudding learns language in a very different way to most kids.  I know this, and have known it for some time.  Yet it still continues to surprise me.  I still find it difficult and frustrating to tailor my language to her needs.  For the most part, I’m successful in getting her attention before I speak, and keeping my sentences short and clear.  But I’ve also been doing a lot of something else, and it is damaging to her communication.  I’ve been correcting her, over-correcting her, really.  Now I’m paying the price for it.

Pudding has an Asperger’s diagnosis, which might fool you into thinking that she doesn’t have language delays.  In fact, she has very significant pragmatic language delays, like many other kids on the spectrum.  One of the most instantly noticeable of these is her difficulty with pronouns.  Initially, she would substitute the pronoun with names for extra clarification.

Pudding wants Mummy to get Pudding a drink.

Then we began speech therapy.  She understands pronouns.  She knows that I mean Mummy when I say “I/me/mine” and Pudding when I say “you/your/yours” and Cubby or Daddy when I say “he/him/his”.  She understands we/our/them/their without a problem.  But when it comes to generating the correct pronoun herself, she struggles.

She went from using her name to using the word “you.”

You want Mummy to take you out.

I would correct her:

Say: I want you to take me out.

She would repeat back, always emphasizing the pronoun just as I had.  Then over time, she began to correct herself:

You want Mummy to take you out.  Say I want Mummy to take me out.

Now that “say” is stuck there.  Wrapped up in almost every utterance.  I hate the effort that she puts into correcting herself, only for it to be wrong.  I really hate that it is my fault for over-correcting her.


I turned to the experts in Pudding’s life.  First, her teacher who approaches things from a behavioral standpoint.  She recommends ignoring the incorrect request, and only responding to correct language. It is what they do in her Verbal Behavior classroom.  It works there.

But I can’t.

I can’t turn away any communicative intent.  I can’t ignore her language because it isn’t fluent, not when I know how hard she tries.

So I tried her speech therapist.  Her method was to find an alternative way for using “say”.  She suggested “try” or “tell me.”

While that suits my instincts better, I have a feeling that before long they’ll also be incorporated into Pudding’s speech.  I mentioned this to her therapist, who acknowledged it is a very real possibility.  Then when we went to leave, she said goodbye, but Pudding was outside focusing on a flower, and didn’t hear her.  Before I could stop myself, I called to her: “Say goodbye.”

These language habits are tough once they are instilled, for both of us.  I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place- let Pudding be.  Let her learn our language immersion style, my teaching methods are clearly useless.  That is something I don’t mind saying.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oh! I so feel you on this. Once Julia was racing me down the stairs and I said, “Oh! You’re gonna beat me!” So now whenever she races me down that flight of stairs she says, “you’re going to beat me” when she means, “I’m going to beat you.” It all goes back to that echolalia thing. She says it the way she heard and understood it. Sounds like Pudding’s the same way.

    I gotta be honest, most of the time I don’t correct her until the mistake has been repeated 3 times. Then when I do correct her, I do it like this, “Really? Who was going to get there first?” She says, “I was!” Then I say, “Okay so did you mean, ‘you’re going to beat me?’ or ‘I’m going to beat you?'” 9 times out of 10 she gets it.

    As for responding when spoken to, I usually ask her, “Julia, did you say good bye to Mrs. Speech Therapist?” Then she usually does it. I don’t know if any of that will help you with Pudding, but at least you know you’re not alone! 🙂


    March 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    • It definitely helps to know I’m not alone. I like the way you ask a question instead, that beats my nagging! I’m trying, it is hard to curb my instincts.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 23, 2011 at 6:47 am

  2. Oh – you are so not alone on this one!! My son is working with the therapists on this pronoun thing. I think it is very difficult because it is almost impossible to explain what a pronoun is without using it in the explanation. My son constantly asks me “What would you like to drink?” when he is thirsty. I will tell him to say, “I’m thirsty.” He will repeat it but then say, “What would you like to drink?” again. So frustrating. Also, how in the world do you say my and your without using it on yourself inappropriately to instruct or have them repeat it inappropriately when you use it correctly?

    I think they will get it eventually- it’s just very difficult to teach!! I completely relate!


    March 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    • After almost two years of trying to teach it, I’m convinced that it is not to be taught. It can only be learned through osmosis. Unless there is a method I haven’t been told about yet- then I’m all ears!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

  3. We have a lot of the same issues with Pudding’s cousin. Pronouns and basic syntax are still a big problem. I have seen SO much improvement this year in kindergarten. So hang in there. It WILL improve with time but I totally understand the frustration in the meantime. You just want them to communicate “properly” and effectively. It has been nice that he does not get any teasing or social reprecussions from his obvious delays in this area….yet. But we are hoping for some more gap closing prior to first grade! I have used the ignore until its right technique and for him its pretty effective. You’re a smart mother so I am sure you will find ways to encourage her speech with the right results. hang in there!!!

    Puddings Aunt

    March 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  4. Yep!
    I hear you too!
    I’ll often say to Lucas….”Say goodbye Lucas” when he is leaving somewhere so he will repeat exactly that “Goodbye Lucas”.

    And thankyou for helping to bring to light one of my pet peeves…..My boys BOTH have asperger diagnoses and I’m forever explaining to people that it doesn’t mean that they can’t have communication issues.,

    The pragmatics are particularly a problem for Lucas and when Harley was younger….we struggled with the pronouns too!

    You are doing SO great with Pudding! I applaud you!


    March 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm

  5. ah yep same here too (except insert Gus for Pudding – hes nearly 4).We also get the echolalia when I say “come close to me and ask” or “look at mummy” he then says “come close” or “look at mummy” rather than doing these things but oh boy he TRIES so hard and its a fine line between practice and frustration


    March 23, 2011 at 7:48 am

    • I know, it is the frustration that is the worst. Like EVERYTHING isn’t already frustrating enough for them…..and by extension for us too.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm

  6. Oh, these language things are so crazy. We couldn’t get the meaning for the word stop understood, but oddly, wait, was not a problem, so we substituted wait for instances of stop. Then one day they were running toward the street, and my husband was shouting stop and they completely ignored him. He turned to me frantically and I said, use wait. He did, and they stopped dead in their tracks, just at the end of the driveway. 🙂

    I wonder if she could learn from a different perspective, such as, instead of saying “say goodbye” inform her that so and so said goodbye. I don’t know if she will pick up this cue to say goodbye herself, maybe not. But might work with a couple of prompts. They are all so different. But for sure she will eventually learn the correct response. It just needs tweaking.


    March 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    • Oh, that is so scary. Thank goodness they stopped…or waited. 🙂

      She definitely needs a different perspective, if I can just stop myself from the current one!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: