My toddler, Cedar, is 30 months old now. He’s been doing a couple of imitative things. One is the O-Re-O chorus from Wreck it Ralph, and “Uh-Oh.” And I swear when he takes a little tumble he makes an utterance the general shape of “Are you OK.” It’s a little hard to check. But this is apparently part of how they operate, is not slicing language into constituent parts.
There’s a Star Trek episode about an alien race that only communicates in stories. I was always bothered by this story since if they were incapable of using discrete words how would they tell the story? I don’t know, maybe they had a complete language and something happened where the holists came to dominate the society. They had some technological superiority to the humans, they were interstellar travellers and could kidnap Captain Picard with a transporter that when around the Enterprises shields. So they apparently had well developed technical abilities. Maybe their day to day communication was sciencey and the mythological tropes were the best they could come up with for the diplomatic protocols prior humans had attempted.
Anyway, yesterday when his brother came home, Cedar smiled and turned around and walked backward to the gate in the doorway, apparently hoping to be picked up. That’s what it’s like. He doesn’t see that if you want to be picked up, you hold your arms out to someone. Instead he assumes the posture that makes it easy for him to be picked up. We saw this kind of thing with spacepook (who was never diagnosed, but was a hand flapper) and Hekka will just kind of tackle me instead of asking in any conventional way for a hug. It’s a kind of gestural hyperliteralism. How would he learn the gestures toddlers normally use?
He’s the only toddler around here. He does go to a toddler class at church, but doesn’t necessarily see them in interaction with their parents. He is finally going in without a fuss, which has been a big step for us.