I always knew he would be the sort of boy who would just do things when he was ready. There would be no rushing him. Over two years of speech therapy, early intervention and other assorted sessions, and nothing. We quit speech therapy, it wasn't working for him; early intervention ended due to him being school age; all we were doing was some occasional OT through the holidays, biding the time till school began. Then suddenly, one day, shortly before Christmas......
"Dubbedah.....dubbedah...dubbedah...." His croaky voice floated around the house as he experimented with some new phonetics. "Dubbedah...dubbedah...dubbedah....". I followed the sound of his voice to find him. Whenever he makes a new sound or produces a new phonetic, I like to jump on the opportunity and repeat it back to him. Finding my boy, I knelt down to his level and repeated this new 'word' to him. Slowly, a smile spread across his gorgeous face.
"Dubbedah, dubbedah, dubbedah..."
"Dubbedah, dubbedah, dubbedah!"
Back and forth we spoke, his smile growing wider until he began to chuckle, that cute little bit of saliva dribbling down his chin the way it does when he's building up to a big belly laugh.
Over the next few days, I heard this word a lot. Whenever I could, I would repeat it back to him, bringing his attention to this new sound his mouth was making. After a little while, I thought I might attach some new words to the end of the string.
"Dubbedah, dubbedah, dubbedah-daddy! Dubbedah, dubbedah, dubbedah-mummy!"
He would echo me, trying his hardest to produce the different word on the end. It. Was. Amazing! The whole family noticed. All his sisters got excited every time they heard him speaking these words. Baby Miss - not so much a baby anymore - even developed her own version of Talking Tom (you know, the iPad app where the cat echoes what you say?). She'd make different sounds and noises, even just laugh, and her brother would do his best to echo her. It was one of the most beautiful interactions I've ever seen among my kids. They'd go back and forth this way for ages, until they both collapse in a puddle of dribbly giggles.
Over the next few weeks, this nonsense word - dubbedah - became a prompt for all kinds of new words and sentences. Not that he could echo accurately every time, but he was trying - really trying! - and that was amazing in itself. Sometimes, he didn't even need to have dubbedah preceding a sentence before he would echo. At this point, he has almost dropped it altogether, but the echoing - blessedly - continues. One afternoon, I was even able to get him to echo 'bye-bye Tayta' when leaving my mothers' house. She nearly burst into tears with joy at hearing these precious, amazing words, from my son. It doesn't matter that it was just an echo to him, and that he does not yet attach meaning to most of those words. He said them! And oh, how sweet they are coming from his mouth :)