When Junior was born, Himself and I decided to teach him a modified version of American Sign Language. What the heck, we thought. It'll give the kid a chance to let us know what he wants.
Our plan worked like a charm. It worked so well, in fact, that Junior didn't bother much with speech for his first two years. I remember quite plainly an incident that took place when he was almost a year old. He had an ear infection and needed medicine. You know the stuff. That "delicious" cherry-flavored liquid that tastes (to borrow from Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike cherries. Junior hated it, and let me know in no uncertain signs.
"Come on, honey. Time for your medicine."
"Yes, you need to take it. There you go; good boy."
"Nope, that's it."
"Yes, you're all done with medicine for now."
Once Junior started to speak English rather than ASL, his vocabulary blew us away. A screech from his room would be followed by a shout. "I am fwustwated, Mama!" A special treat might be met with, "How wonderful!" The really interesting part for me was the fact that he often constructed his sentences with ASL syntax.
Now that he's a master of the spoken word, Junior is relying less on his earlier echolalia, and more on putting his feelings into his own words. Especially when it comes to his personal preferences. As I prepared to put him in the tub the other day, he started grumbling. Expecting the usual response of "Whatsa matter?" to my identical query, I was stunned to get a fairly heated answer.
"I am angwee. I don't wanna take a baf!"
Either he wasn't really that opposed to bathing, or the look on my face was hysterical to him. We both cracked up.
"Feeling happier now, kiddo?"
Junior grinned and swept his hand up his chest a couple of times. "I am happy now!"