So lately I’ve been asked a lot how Lucas is doing in his language, and if he is learning English. I thought I’d write a little blog about where he was and where he is at now! It’s been such a neat process to see his language progress, and change from the day we met him until now. He is such a smart little boy, and is learning so much, so fast!!
Lucas’s language before he came to us was very minimal, he didn’t say much or talk much at all; because he was abandoned when he was a baby, and spent most of his life in an orphanage, he never had anyone to teach him what words are, or what things are called, or even how to talk and pronunciate words, so he would just grunt a lot when we first got him. He would say things, but most of it wasn’t understandable (not even in his language), he knew a few words in his language, enough to communicate what he was trying to say, and thankfully we learned those words and more of his language (Ankloe) when we were in Uganda. He was trying to tell us things, but you could tell he just didn’t know how. From day one, he was overwhelmed by language. First, we are completely new people to him, and giving him more attention he has ever had in his entire life; Second, we were speaking a new language; and Third, we were speaking more to him and about things than he had ever been exposed to. All of this was overwhelming, and as a coping strategy (although we tried our best not to overwhelm him) he became more observatory. We showed him that everything has a name, we had to teach him what the grass is called, what a tree is called, what a dog is called, what everything is…I knew he was getting it when he started pointing at things, looking at us, non-verbally asking us to tell him what that is called. It was a lot of non-verbal communication at first, which turned quickly into sign language (that he caught on quickly to) and so the transition was from non-verbal to eventually verbal.
Right now he is mesmerized that everything has a name, that names of things have classifications, like for example: his blocks, he learned a few months ago that these are his “blocks”, but now he is learning that each block has a different color and that different colors all have different names. It’s interesting to watch his progression of intelligence increase just by simple things like this, things that we teach our children even when they’re infants, but that he missed out on. It’s amazing to watch him process this, and really let it soak in, just learning about the world he is in. It’s incredible to witness.
He is able to understand most everything we say to him now, where before we were using a lot of sign language and big non-verbal cues to get through the communication barriers. For example, we would say, “Do you want some milk?” then I’d sign the sign for milk, and then point to the milk, and give it to him. Then I’d make him sign “milk” in order for him to get more, and he would sign “more milk”, where eventually he would come up to me with no prompting and sign & ask for “Milk please”, and I’d give him milk. He was getting it! It also went along with him communicating a “need” and us meeting his need, he was developing trust, and once trust was really established, language really took off for him. Where now, he verbalizes it along with signing it (although the signing is wearing off and he is just verbalizing more and more) and he’ll say “Mommy, milk, please?”
He is learning very fast, and very well. We are trying to work on pronunciation with him right now, where they’re not just sounds, but verbalized pronunciated words. Like, “la la” isn’t just “ah ah”…tongue placement is hard for him because our language is so different from his, and he never had anyone to teach him proper language skills. Although he is verbalizing more now, and I understand what he is trying to say, we are trying to teach him proper tongue placement so he can learn more words. We also still speak some of his language to him though, which helps with the transition too!! They’re so much of our daily talk now, I’m guessing they just always will be. Like, “Weybac” which means sleep in his language, “N’coko” (Chicken) and “Enyonyi” (Airplane), and words like that.
Some of the very first English words he learned to say were:
Daddy, Mommy, Aiden (which he pronounces “E-Din”-so cute), Papa, Ko-ee and Bow-dee (Kloey and Brody-our dogs), Peese (please), Tank woo (Thank you), Dow-ga (Dog), Eat, dweenk (drink), owside (outside), hello and bye bye.
He’s really doing well, learning more each day, and we are so happy with his progress!! 🙂