Our grandson, Carson, is exceedingly bright. He didn’t talk very much early on, and his parents were duly concerned. His visual skills were well developed for his age level, and his father had the benefit of speech therapy when he was a boy. So I suggested to his mom and dad that they consult with a speech-language pathologist in our area for whom I had high regard, and with whom I’d collaborated before. She reassured his parents that Carson would be fine in due time, and he embarked on his journey with speech therapy.
I’ve always been inspired by the gift that Dr. Seuss books bring to the visuality of reading. I recalled one of my favorite Seuss books from when Carson’s dad was little, the story of Gerald McBoing Boing. Gerald was, to say the least, reserved with his words. He tended to make noises instead, and despite the best attempts at intervention never did develop any speaking vocabulary. He was an extreme case, but despite his limitations managed to channel his gift of simulating a variety of sounds into commercial success.
The animated cartoon that was made of the story won an Academy Award the year before I was born, and the message remains timeless. Do everything you can as a parent to develop a child’s skills, but don’t lose sight of his gifts. I bought the book, inscribed it with a message of optimism, and sent it along to Carson’s mom and dad. Reading it before bedtime, beginning from the inscription, has become a nightly ritual between Carson and his dad. Reading the book together, putting one’s own voice to the words and noises, is wonderful for language development. We visited Carson last weekend in Florida and nothing was sweeter than when he brought the book to me, inviting me to be the bedtime reader. You know that kid is going to be somebody special. He already is.