First Words Through Play

The boy is now more motivated than ever. The structure of the predictable repeated tune holds his attention as he sees what else HE can do with it. Now his attention to the world around him absorbs him. There is a need or him to be heard. Over time, the boy begins pointing adamantly, as if to say “This one, I want this! See that one, do you see?” Now there are decisions to be made. Choices to attend to. How does he get people to listen?

As the music continues, the assistant follows the boy’s pointing. However, at times the assistant is not able to discern what the boy wants. The pointing is too vague, leaving both the assistant and the boy slightly frustrated and wanting more. The silent boy is now motivated to get more. He makes sound to get the assistant’s attention. The tone he vocalizes on is the same one that the music-maker sings at the beginning of each reflected phrase of the boy’s song. The music-maker matches that tone, doing her best to name what he points at. This is even more intriguing to the boy. The more the boy needs this sound to help him, the more he plays with the sound. Now when “ah” is not working or his enthusiastic energy is permeating, he begins to play with “ah” to see what else he can get. “Duh duh duh duh duh” happens often.

Again seeking the attack reverberation of striking a drum still slightly frustrated, he moved to the mirror, held a toy up in the air. As he holds it, the music-maker still matching his tone, sings “A-L-L-L (til the toys drops) DONE!” The boy looks to the music-maker, very pleased. He repeats this over and over, intently listening to how that sound is made. Over and over he repeats this process. Now he looks to the music-maker as he holds up the toy, anticipating the words. Each time his mouth opens, he forms the “ah,” but no sound yet. Repeatedly he listens to “ALL DONE!” as he opens his mouth. Finally he says his first word as he holds the toy up. The music-maker sings “ALL -” and as he drops it, he says “done” himself!

Antoinette Morrison, MT-BC


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