“How many dogs are there now?” I read aloud Joey, as we worked our way through one of our current favorite books, Groovy Joe by Eric Litwin. (There were 8 dogs on the page.) “9… Funny” Joey replied on his AAC eye gaze device and then turned to show me his huge grin. I had to pause for a moment because I did not even realize that the word funny had been added to Joey’s AAC device. He took the opportunity of my pause to add “silly” just in case I hadn’t understood his meaning behind funny. Yes, 9 is silly because there are 8 dogs, not 9, and he KNOWS he’s clicking on the wrong answer. Maybe he’s tired of me asking him to count dogs on the page, or maybe he’s not exactly where which number 8 is, but he knows it’s not 9 and he’s making a joke out of it.
Early on, Joey thought it was funny to tell me the wrong answer to a simple question followed by the word yes. “Purple yes” he’d say when I asked him what color Pete the Cat’s shoes were. His grin told me that he knew he was joking with me. He always knew he was being silly, but now he has the words to tell us his intentions.
We returned to reading the book, although now I was pretty sure at any moment he was going to pull out his new words for me in another joke.
“Goodness…” I read, and paused for him to say “no.”
“Snow” he clicks. “silly”.
Did he recognize that snow rhymes with no? I don’t think so, but then, I’ve learned over time that I should never underestimate Joey. “Goodness snow?” I asked, “that is silly!” Part of presuming competence is moving with them. Regardless of his intention behind selecting snow, using the word silly let us know that he knew snow wasn’t the right word to put into the phrase. He was teasing us.
These days Joey’s face brightens when his eyes rest on his new words silly and funny, and you can tell through the gleam in his eye that he’s getting ready to tell a joke. He looks proud of himself after he uses them and shows that he’s in the mood to play. It’s wonderful to see his personality continue to shine more as his vocabulary increases allowing him to share more of himself with us.