pumpkin’s communication issues

So I saw Pumpkin’s early childhood screening, and it was very interesting.  To the question, “which is bigger, a house or a ball?” he answered, “ball.”  (He does that fairly frequently — he repeats the last thing you said if he doesn’t otherwise know what to say.)  To the question, “what’s this?” (pointing to chin), he answered, “armpit.”

Today I started his portfolio assessment (I’ve got parent conferences next week), and found that he does, after all, know most of his colors.  He also knows three whole capital letters, and recognized a few shapes and one or two numbers.  But when I asked, “what is your first name?” he answered, “four.”

It occurs to me that not only does this child really not understand the concept of listening, he doesn’t understand the whole concept of questioning.  You know, someone asks a question, and you answer it, and the answer makes some sort of logical sense.  His response to “when is your birthday?” was “people give me presents,” so at least he was on topic, and he knows that when I say something, he’s supposed to say something back.  But he doesn’t know that a question requires an answer, and he doesn’t know when he doesn’t know the answer.  I tried to prompt him — “if you don’t know, that’s okay, just say ‘I don’t know'” — but that got me nowhere.

In blocks today he was very excited to check out the cardboard brick blocks for the first time.  He required several interventions from me, because he was so excited he was kicking blocks across the floor, and knocking down other people’s buildings.  I explained to him that “blocks are for building,” and that in the block corner there is no kicking, and no knocking down other people’s creations without their permission.  I told him that if he did one of those things again, he’d have to leave the block corner.

So a few minutes later he kicked some blocks and I said, “okay, that’s it, you need to leave now.”

The next minute I looked and he was nowhere in the room.

“Miss Slinger, have you seen Pumpkin?” I asked.

“No,” she said, looking around with concern.

I had an idea, and went out to the hall, where I found a very sad Pumpkin waiting by his cubby, with his backpack on.

He didn’t think he had to leave blocks, he thought he had to leave school!

Poor baby.  But this morning I grabbed our speech pathologist and asked her to hang out with my little Pumpkin and tell me what she thinks.

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6 thoughts on “pumpkin’s communication issues

  1. I have a “Pumpkin” in my class this year too, two of them actually. One can’t seem to relate to anything that we are doing in a logical way, the other, nobody can understand in English or Spanish, but it’s more than just speech. It’s really frustrating, for them too. And school has no “quick” help fixes for them, it’s going to be a LONG process.

  2. Kiri,

    Honestly, I found your blog because I was looking for advice on how to deal with my Pumpkin. He has all of the issues that you have described in addition to his lacking in social skills, but he has already had two years of preschool and is in Kindergarten now. His conversation skills have improved, but in addition to the preschool, he has been getting speech therapy since he was two years old and he received developmental therapy through First Steps. He never played with a toy, sat on his butt, held a spoon or a fork, or spoke a single word (including mama and dada) until a few weeks or months into his initial therapy. The only things that interested him were being held by his father or I, be nursed, and eating finger foods.

    So, I have to say that pulling aside the speech pathologist and asking her to keep an eye on him was a very positive step in the right direction. At the end of my Pumpkins first year of preschool, he was asked, “So what are you doing in class today?” and his response was, “I like popcorn.” But today, after three years of speech therapy he would probably say he watched a movie or played outside. We are fortunate that we were made aware of the First Steps program, so my Pumpkin could get all of the initial therapy and preschool, unfortunately, I know that not everyone in the country has access to these programs or are just never made aware that they are available.

    I don’t think there is anything that I can tell you that you don’t already seem to be doing, like being patient with him and giving him that extra encouragement. In a way I am glad to see that there are other children with the same issues as my Pumpkin, I just hope I can get the teachers and administration at his school to see that all of this may be occurring because of something more than just being immature for his age.

    I so look forward to keeping up with your blogs through the rest of the year. I hope you find some of my ramblings helpful.

    • I do, indeed. Thank you! (And I’m thrilled that I’ve got a parent reading my blog; I’ve always hoped that I’d reach more people than just teachers.)

  3. Definitely red flags. My bumble last year would do that. One word answers that made no sense. Other times he was perfectly coherent. It may be an auditory processing disorder, or Pumpkin may be somewhere on the autism spectrum.

    Let me know how you handle it!

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