Most of my posts about language development have centered on Travis, who is deaf. His language progress has intrigued me because 1: he's my first deaf child 2: he came to us having been exposed to no formal language.
Tian, however, has made amazing language strides in his own right! When we first read his file, we assumed he was at least hard-of-hearing, if not deaf. As we read more about microtia and atresia and got more information on Tian, we quickly realized we needed to keep an open mind because he most probably could hear. Now that he's been home with us almost 6 months, we can tell that he not only can hear, but seems to have keen hearing in many circumstances. Just this morning, he heard the faint sound of a faraway helicopter outside, perked up and signed, "helicopter!" Other times, it seems he doesn't hear some things, but that may just be his age.
Obviously, he doesn't have complete hearing in his right ear. That's evidenced in the fact that the canal is closed and in how he turns a complete 360 degrees to look for a sound coming from his right.
When we first met Tian, he was two day away from his second birthday. He would say about three things in Mandarin that sounded to us like "way-uh" "doe-uh" and "nye." We were told that he was just babbling, but that one phrase meant "go" and another meant "here we are" or "we are here." Other than that, he wasn't talking. Reports given to us by his foster family and welfare institute also said he wasn't speaking. I've showed him photos of his foster mom, who I'm told was referred to as "nie nie" (grandmother), but have never gotten him to say it verbally. We've also had Chinese friends, both in China and here at home, count to ten to try to get him to repeat the words, but he never would.
In the almost six months we've had him, Tian's language has grown exponentially in both ASL and spoken English. For the first two months home, Tian would speak and gesture very generically. He couldn't form the "I love you" hand-shape among others, but would try to sign as best he could with his limited fine-motor skills. Over the past couple of months, he's been able to form the "I love you" hand-shape and a lot more! It's been fun to see his ASL vocabulary grow. He's speaking less and signing more, which doesn't concern us in the least. He overhears plenty of spoken language and does verbalize quite a bit, so if signing is his preference right now, we know that won't harm him in the least. (I can't wait until he grows up so we can prove this fact.)
When he wakes from a nap, the first thing he does is ask (signing),"Where's Travis?"
He says/signs "better!" For example, yesterday, the batteries in his airplane were drained. He brought the airplane to me, signing, "broken." I told him we needed to put in new batteries. (He also signs "batteries.") After the batteries were replaced, he ran into his room, tested it out, then ran back in to me signing/saying "better!"
He says "Potty" and "pew peewww." The way he signs "poop" is too cute. He signs is correctly but upside-down.
Another cute word he says and signs is "hot toto!" (cocoa) He signs "HOT CHOCOLATE."
He corrects his brother, which drives Travis crazy. The other day, Travis was sitting on the couch, unhappy about whatever was happening, kicking his feet. Tian walked over to Travis, pushed down on his ankles, attempted to "flick" Travis' leg, then signed, "NO NO! UNDERSTAND?"
Here are a few pictures and videos of Tian. Enjoy!