Written by Denise A. Somsak MD
Every household and every child has a silly meter, funny bone, goofy factor. At five years old, our daughter’s understanding of language has taken off. She knows what sarcasm is. She is conversational about a variety of topics.
She knows how to make rhymes. She has a preference for stories about magic and happy endings. She likes simple poetry. She knows the words to songs from Mary Poppins and Sound of Music. She can even sing in Spanish: La Bamba.
The downside of this mastery of language is her attempt at humor. She tells knock knock jokes without quite understanding the punch lines and riddles without getting the solutions. She loves to say things like poopy face, booty, and booger sandwich.
If we do not laugh at her verbal antics, she moves on to physical comedy. She imitates the odd noises her autistic brother sometimes makes and does a dance with them which cracks up our toddler.
She will crawl under our legs and yes sometimes chew our socks. The other day I told her, “Keep your teeth off my feet. No mother should have to say that to her five year old.”
She giggled so hard she lost her grip on my socks. She laughed at her own ridiculous behavior repeating, “Keep your teeth off my feet.”
We probably allow more silliness than most families. On good days we meet challenges with humor not anger. Our son is sweet, but he is odd. When our daughter tries to give him a drawing or share a piece of candy, he usually drops it on the ground and walks away sometimes departing with a thank you.
While of course we are working on his communication skills, we also feel the need to rescue her self esteem after this type of interchange. Most of the time we do this with humor. Over time, her story telling skills have embellished her brother’s actions.
“Mommy David looked at my picture and then dropped it to see if it would blow in the wind.”
We embrace our daughter’s silliness. We see it as a sign of normal development. We rejoice that she understands humor and language in a way her autistic brother never will.
Check out the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for language milestones at various ages to see how your child is developing and things you can do to foster communication skills.