Just recently Elena seems to have really started to understand us and respond to our requests and suggestions. When she does, it feels like we’re communicating for real. I can think of several specific examples.
She just got a magna doodle, and has partially figured out how to write on it. Sometimes she uses the wrong end of the pen (the end without a magnetic tip) and gets frustrated because nothing happens.
She loves her rubber duckies, and can find them in the middle of a pile of assorted toys when we say “find the duckies.”
When it’s time for her to get dressed and Jenny says “put your arms to the sky,” Elena will do it. This allows her to have more of one of her favorite activities: playtime on our bed.
The other day I was feeding her dinner, and before I blessed the food I asked her to fold her arms. In the past I’ve accompanied similar requests with some assistance–putting her arms together for just a second. This time she did it on her own. Of course, it didn’t last for the whole prayer, and we haven’t been able to repeat the success, but I’m sure I saw it.
Last week a friend of ours taught Elena how to give high fives. It didn’t take very long at all, and she’s kept doing it all week long with us and anyone else who she sees.
The biggest news doesn’t have quite so much to do with communication, although that does play some part. Elena has acquired two new climbing skills. First, she has enough reach and leverage to climb up onto our futon, which is about three times as tall as a single stair step. She has to swing her leg up as high as she can, but with just a few days of practice she’s already become proficient. Second, she has learned that she can climb down from things by turning around to let her feet down first. For her, this is a much less scary option than taking everything face first. She used to think that was the only option, but we worked with her to show that there was another way. Here’s a good example that we caught on video while preparing the equipment for yesterday’s big event*:
*Details are forthcoming, but check the flickr sidebar for a preview.