It’s a mixed bag.
On the one hand, Rafi can finally speak Hebrew. I’d known for a few months that he could understand quite a few things and that speaking wasn’t far away. A few weeks ago he started being able to express simple wants and desires, every once in a while. Now he will have a whole conversation–still on a simple level, of course, but the important thing is that he answers in Hebrew. If he’s stuck on expressing a word or concept, he’ll wait for a prompt or ask for a word rather than give up on the whole endeavor.
And not a moment too soon. Months of nonverbal communication have taken their toll on how he interacts with other children. His primary way to ask someone to play has been to chase them around on the playground. Now he can finally ask, but old habits die hard. The other day he caught sight of a friend, a sweet girl whom I’d seen giving him a hug the day before, and chased her the entire way around the playground, yelling her name over and over. Needless to say, she didn’t want to play with him after that. Scenarios like that happen too often.
I didn’t think it was that much of a problem until I got reports from some parents that their kids told them they had all ganged up on Rafi. As far as I can tell, they wanted to get back at him for making faces and chasing them, so they gave him some of his own medicine. Rafi thought it was part of the game–and that’s the problem, that his antics get positive reinforcement at least as often as negative.
Jeff and I spoke to Rafi about using his words instead of making scary faces, yelling, and chasing. It seems to be helping.