A few days ago, we were at the comic book store, and Simon came up to me.
“Should we give the Indians food?” he asked.
For those who don’t know it, he was referring to the really horrible (and really funny, but not in the way they intended) Charlie Brown Mayflower episode.
“Yes, we should feed the Indians. Otherwise they’ll be hungry, right?” I said. I always respond to Simon’s echolalia because…well, why not?
He looked at me like I was an idiot and repeated himself, “Should we give the Indians food?”
I stopped and looked at him.
“Do *you* want food?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yes.”
Score: One for Simon, zero for mom.
This is why echolalia can be so valuable. Simon might not know how to come up to me and tell me that he wants to get food, but he can provide lines from a show that gets to it in a round-about way. And I’m good with that.
Yes, I’d love Simon to be able to communicate perfectly. I’d love for his communication to even be at a four-year-old level where he could straight out say, “Hey, I’m hungry!” But that isn’t happening yet, and that’s okay. At least we’ve been moving in the right direction.
So to everyone who thinks that echolalia is pointless or annoying, I want you to consider all the times that you’ve quoted song lyrics or the Simpsons to get your purpose across. It’s just another form of communication.
Charlie Brown Mayflower episode for your viewing pleasure (or pain):
REALLY, I SWEAR, THERE IS NOT A DANCE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL.
THERE IS NO DANCE.
NO, NO SPECIAL OLYMPICS DANCE.
STOP LOOKING AT THE CALENDAR. THERE ISN’T A DANCE.
YES, WE WILL TELL YOU WHEN THERE IS A DANCE.
NO, THERE IS NO DANCE RIGHT NOW.
HONEST, THERE ISN’T A DANCE.
THERE’S NOTHING TO GET UPSET ABOUT. YOU DON’T NEED TO CRY.
(By the way, there is no dance, at least not yet, but apparently someone has gotten it into his mind that the flyer from yesterday about the parent meeting was about a dance and we are hiding this magic dance from him. Hopefully by tomorrow we can stop repeating ourselves…)
Simon has begun re-watching episodes of “Oswald” on his iPad mini. He loves using Amazon’s streaming videos because he can watch so many cartoons and shows that he likes, and he is in complete control of it. He wanders around with it, watching them on the couch, on the floor, wherever he goes.
For those who are not familiar with “Oswald,” Oswald is an octopus that has a pet dog (Weenie) and a number of friends, including a penguin (Henry) and a flower (Daisy). [Fun Fact: Oswald is voiced by Fred Savage! Yes, that Fred Savage!]
Anyway, so Simon has gotten into the show again in a big way. He used to watch it a lot, but then stopped. Now he really loves it. Watches an episode a day, at least.
Well, in one of the episodes, Oswald’s dog get dirty and needs a bath. And, being a dog, does not want to take a bath. Oswald has to find him and force him to take a bath.
Nothing funny yet, right?
Now let’s remember echolalia.
I was gone to Tampa for the residency period of my MFA. My husband took Simon to the store. Simon walked around, repeating only certain lines from the show. Those lines?
“Weenie’s dirty. Weenie needs to take a bath.”
Now imagine how you would react to an 11-year-old boy walking around saying that. Repeatedly. Apparently there were a number of very strange looks.
My husband tried to mitigate the strangeness by filling in the blanks, “Yes, Oswald’s dog, Weenie, is dirty, and he does need to take a bath.”