Or your dolls.
Allow me to explain.
I had Brad evaluated last week for private speech therapy. She raised the usual litany of concerns. Expressive language delay. Receptive language delay. No surprise there. What surprised me was her observation that his play is rigid and rote, and he has no imagination.
Oh really? I see him play with his brother all the time, and personally, I see mostly natural, unscripted play, with a lot of laughter. Brad has a sense of humor, albeit an immature one. Beyond that, I see a budding imagination, particularly when we use pretend food or stuffed animals.
The basis for the SLP's observation: it's the dolls.
The SLP did what every examiner does - she reverted to her preconceived notion of what inspires imagination in a normal kid. But Brad does not have an emotional connection to dolls or plastic representations of people. Why would he? In the world according to Brad, babies poop, cry, grab his stuff and don't share. He's around a baby - a sibling of one of Jeremy's friends - a few times per week. When he sees the baby, Brad goes right into bunker mode, protecting his booty of toys from the perceived threat because that's all that a baby is to Brad at this age.
So he lacks the emotional connection but he knows from past experience what to do with dolls. He puts them to sleep and says "shhhhh." He has memorized the play script. And being the pleaser he is, he happily goes through the script on request.
Fine, maybe I'm rationalizing. But the way I see it, he's acting in a rigid manner because we've reduced freeplay to an instructer-led service delivery model. Call me crazy but maybe play isn't always best when it's administered by a trained professional.
Not to worry though. I'm not shunning speech therapy. Brad is starting during the second week of July, two fifty minute sessions per week, covered by insurance at least for now. I plan to have a little heart to heart with the SLP before she starts however.