Verbal Or Non-Verbal, That Is The Question

Is your child verbal?

How would you answer this question when you can understand the handful of words that your “non-verbal” child has and know that he can answer yes and no questions with 95% accuracy? Man, oh man, I struggle with this.

Sol’s language center was completely wiped out by the three strokes he had at birth. We’ve always firmly believed that he is not cognitively delayed and that he understood everything we said to him, even though his expressive speech was severely delayed. He started to have words after we did our first round of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and his expressive speech has exploded since we did stem cell therapy back in March. To date, we figure that he has somewhere between 20 – 30 words, has just started stringing 2 words together, and, like Bea, will speak in his own language. (Sometimes I think Bea understands him as I will frequently find the two of them conversing back and forth.)

With an occasional word and answers to yes and no questions, we can have conversations with him and generally understand what he wants – Solly, do you want mac and cheese for dinner? Head shake “yes”. Solly, do you want to go to bed? Head shake “no”. The other day, he crawled over to his walker, banged on it to ask us to put him in it, and then began gesturing wildly. I asked him if he needed to go potty (he generally prefers to go potty while in his walker or stander because they keep him upright), and he nodded “yes” and then shouted “bye!” The boy wanted some privacy so he could go potty – and he did. This minimal communication is even allowing us to start thinking about potty training, which I thought was years off.


Swimming at Dolphins and pretty happy about it

But, the other day, when I handed him over to a new swim instructor at Nashville Dolphins, I paused when she asked me, “Is he verbal?” To her standards, he isn’t, but gosh darn it, the kid can communicate and I felt compelled to give him some credit. Instead of saying “no”, I smiled and said, “He’s partially verbal.”

How would you answer that question?

What I’m Reading

There has been some cool research going on about how the brain can recover language after a stroke. Here are a couple of articles that I’ve read lately (including one by the wonderful team at Georgetown University’s Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, who I met with back in 2015):


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