I thought it was the melody of the song that helped him be able to do so, in contrast to the intense efforts he expends to say a phrase like “I want to go to school.” On his own (i.e., without us prompting him), Charlie says “I want” or “go” or “school,” but stringing together the sequence of words is really hard for him. Perhaps there is some disrupted connection between the parts of his brain that control his speech and those that control his motor system?
Charlie also has a lot of difficulty doing motor activities like writing with a pencil or pen and catching a ball. He has learned to do the latter if the ball is thrown directly to him; for a long time, he always raised his hands several beats behind seeing the ball heading towards him, as if he couldn’t get his eyes, brain and body to all work together at once. He was also a quite late walker (16 months) in part (I reflect now) because he just couldn’t figure out how to coordinate all the parts of his body involved in getting on his feet. When we were first teaching him to understand what was being said to him, it helped to pair words with movements so we told him to push a ball but to get a shoe.
My husband Jim taught Charlie to ride a bike, which certainly involves a lot of coordination between brain and body. Often while they’re riding Jim sings a number of songs. Perhaps by doing so, he is helping Charlie to set his brain’s motor system into action?
One of those songs is one sung to Charlie since he was a baby: “We love you Charlie , / oh yes we do, / we love you Charlie, we do-oo, / oh Charlie, we love you.” It’s a variation on a song fans used to sing to the Beatles that Jim remembers from his younger days — and that Charlie can sing on his own, one verse after another.
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