Just the other day, the boys had a friend come over to play. Before the friend arrived, his mom sent me a text saying that her son was bringing his Batman costume. I told Travis, "Your friend will be wearing his Batman costume when he comes over." Travis' face lit up, eyes lifted, and mouth opened wide. Before I could finish signing, "Why not you go upstairs to get your Iron Man costume?" he was signing, "Yes, yes!" and making his way up the stairs. Moments later, he came back to tell me he couldn't find his suit. I directed him to look in my bathroom in the hamper. He did and it wasn't there either. Finally, I told him to hold on while I sent a message asking his dad if he knew the costume's whereabouts. He did and Travis put on his alter ego.
I couldn't help but make a mental note of how that conversation was such a big deal. We were discussing something happening in the future: friend will arrive soon. Telling Travis about the costume didn't explicitly mean he had to get his costume on, but he got the implication and ran with it. Travis predicted what I was going to suggest. All of these are big deals regarding language skills, so it was one of those moments I mark up as a major success.
We are still waiting for Travis' expressive language to emerge beyond the basics. Most of what he expresses to us are simply the facts: I want milk. Tian pushed me. My finger hurts. Or questions: Can you get me a bandaid? Can I go outside? Can I watch TV? Where is my blanket? He will answer just about any yes/no question. He will answer basic questions: How old are you? What is your name? He now often spells it instead of just signing his name sign.
He's not yet answering many wh questions except "where?" He seems lost when we ask, "What did you do at school today?" or "Why are you crying?" or even "What's wrong?" When we look at old pictures from China, he doesn't ask one single question. He just looks with much thought, points, and names various things. He will always ask who people are.
He spoke about Christmas and Santa only in facts and regurgitation of what we told him. Tian, on the other hand, wanted to know, “Where does Santa live? What is he doing right now?” In contrast, Travis just takes in information, processes it, and will answer questions only if we’ve already discussed it. He doesn’t express thoughts of his own beyond liking and not liking something.
When I read stories to the boys, Travis will lose interest after about one or two books; sometimes not even that long. He will not ask questions or expand on the stories. He will point and name many things or happenings he sees on the page, but doesn't ask what things are or why or how (as opposed to his brother, who I can't get to be quiet most of the time.) What he will do is "reread" a story we have read often. When he rereads the story, he changes some details and embellishes with objects he sees on the page.
I believe some of this is Travis' personality. He's more contemplative. He's thoughtful. He's precise. He likes order. He will be silly, but can only take so much silliness before it either makes him angry or he takes it overboard. He's not very talkative in general. I think these parts of his personality combine with his language delay and make progress in his expressive language crawl at times.
Despite the slow process of his expressive language, Travis is still making very noticeable strides in all other areas of language development. Like our conversation last night, I often find myself thinking, “Well, that’s a first!” We notice new skills weekly if not daily. He's reading sight words. He loves loves loves math and numbers. (Makes sense.) He enjoys writing and certainly has an artistic talent.
Some days I can hardly wait for him to show us more of what's going on in his mind. I want to know what he's thinking and feeling. Ken and I have no doubt Travis will hit that day when he just lets out all that’s been stirring in his mind. I love this boy so much it makes my heart hurt sometimes. I'm so thankful that I'm able to be his momma.