When my Eldest came to us, he wasn’t the most talkative of people. He was fairly happy to just fade into the background and watch the comings and goings of the house. He was at his most talkative when we were in the car and he spotted lorries, bridges, cars, vans, ambulances, etc etc etc and liked to point them out along with their colour.
At home was another story. He was very meek and quiet. He would talk to us, he certainly wasn’t shy, but rarely exerted any will (other than the odd foot stomp).
One of the books which he was given by his foster carer was Noisy Monkey Loves To Play from Igloo books:
It occurred to me that sometimes children respond and interact with toys better than people, and at that point in time we weren’t much more than strangers to him, and he had been conditioned not to talk to strangers. The foster family had done a superb job in preparing him for his adoption, but he had still only known us for a couple of weeks or so.
So, I took this book which he was familiar with, used it to cover up my mouth and used the monkey puppet to talk to him. It was meant to just be a bit of fun, I was expecting him to realise it was me talking in a funny voice, but his response to it went way beyond that.
He talked to him. He answered questions which had previously been met with silence, he engaged in conversation and showed us just how capable of speaking he was.
We carried on with this game for weeks after I first tried it, I think he did realise it was me after a while, but continued asking to speak to Monkey who kept getting tired and needing to go to sleep. Eventually the game faded away as he became more confident talking to us directly.
The book is a little worse for wear nowadays after Youngest decided to take it to bed with him and laid on it, but we still have it.
I don’t know how much difference this made to Eldest beyond what he would have done anyway, but I like to think this helped him build confidence in his speaking. His clarity of speech was something which was commented on by both his social worker and his foster carers.
The meek boy who didn’t talk much is now a total chatterbox who barely shuts up long enough to eat his meals.