Sunday, January 29, 2012

Train Book Breakthrough

Garrett's favorite book is The Train by David McPhail. We bought it for $.10 at a Library book sale.

We've read it to him every night for months. It's the book that I was so discouraged about after reading it to him the first night after his evaluation.

John and I vary who puts Garrett to bed and who reads to him so that he gets time with both of us. Friday night, after another full day of modeling pronouns, interactive play and going out to the store to buy him some fake food for him to play with and a Buzz Lightyear to encourage him to talk for his toys, it was time for bed. John took him upstairs and Garrett started asking for "Train Book" which means he wants to be read The Train.

John had gone through one of the Read Together, Talk Together books about fire engines on Wednesday night and I went through the Read Together, Talk Together guidelines while reading The Train on Thursday night. It took 45 frustrating minutes of interactive questions, explanations and work that I wasn't even sure was getting through. But I used the guidelines given to me by the pathologist and tried my best to shed new understanding on the story.

When John picked up the book and started reading it to Garrett I was happy to hear John immediately start in on the Read Together, Talk Together interactions and even more amazed to find that Garrett seemed much more in tune to the story.

The Train is a very small book about a little boy named Matthew who loves trains. Matthew lets his baby brother operate his toy train and his baby brother runs it too fast. It falls off the tracks and breaks. Matthew wants to fix the train but his father tells him it's time for bed and he'll have to fix it in the morning. They go to sleep and that night Matthew dreams about fixing and running a real train.

John had not been there when I went through the reading guidelines with Garrett while reading The Train so he wouldn't know what questions I asked or prompts I'd given. This was a perfect way to see what genuine information Garrett had gleaned from our going through it with the new guidelines in place.

Immediately we saw amazing results! I was so amazed I had to stand back with my mouth open in astonishment as I saw John and Garrett interacted while reading the book.

"Who is that?" John asked.

"Matthew!" said Garrett.

"What is Matthew doing?"

"On the bed!"

"Right! Matthew's sitting on the bed. What is he doing?"

"What he doing?"

Knowing echolalia means Garrett doesn't understand, John took another approach. "Is Matthew reading?"


John read a few pages of the book where it talks about Matthew and his love for trains and letting his baby brother run his train and breaking it.

"Crash!" Garrett said.

"Yes!" Replied John, "Crash. His baby brother broke the train. What did Matthew say?"

"I can fix it!"

My mouth fell open. "That right," said John. "Matthew said, 'I can fix it!'"

He turned the page to where Matthew's father comes in and tells Matthew the repairs will have to wait until morning. Matthew asks if they can read a book before bed and Matthew's father agrees to read one book.

"What was the book about?" John asks.

"Trains!" says Garrett.

I am in complete astonishment at this point. This is the most interactive I have seen my son regarding a book, EVER!

John turned the page and asked Garrett what was happening.

"Mommy turn on light."

Garrett gets his off and on mixed up but it was still pretty darned amazing as this was the part in the story where Matthew's mother says goodnight and turns off the light.

When Matthew's dream about fixing the train begins it's a picture of Matthew working on a wheel with a wrench. When asked what was going on Garrett said Matthew was working on the wheel. Matthew then cleans a headlight and when asked what Matthew was cleaning Garrett again answered correctly with, "Light!"

Garrett went on to tell us that Matthew helped load the baggage car, passed out pillows and punched tickets. He identified the water tower in the picture where the train takes on water and talked about Matthew helping to drive the train. By the time it got to the end of the story and Garrett said, "Good night!" I was nearly in tears.

Later, after John went back downstairs and Garrett was asleep, I crept into his room, knelt beside his bed and I did cry. I thanked God for such a precious little boy. I thanked Him for giving him to us. I thanked Him for the progress Garrett's made and asked for help for Garrett and for myself and for John. I asked for patience and for wisdom and grace. I watched Garrett sleep, combing his hair with my finger and just wept in gratitude and love.

All my frustrations and guilt for the day were gone and I was so happy and thankful to have see him understanding and enjoying his favorite book with his Daddy.


  1. Good! Your son will progress and flourish, but it is good that you are giving yourself grace. You love him and though many people proclaim their love and dedication to their family and children, the reality is, few do the work. You are genunionly doing what you know to do.

    1. Thank you. I'm trying to forgive myself and stop feeling guilty about not doing this stuff sooner but I realize that I did what I thought was best with the information I had at the time and there's no point in dwelling on that. I'm really encouraged by how much progress he's making.

      Thanks so much.