When I consider how to answer this question, a recent experience comes to mind. You see, we recently acquired a rescue bird, a young cockatiel that had been neglected and ignored by his original teenage owner. When Tok, (named for a town in Alaska), arrived in our home, he was completely thrown by the new environment. We hung toys in his cage meant to entertain and stimulate him, but they were foreign to him, and he was afraid of the new additions to his cage. I equated this to introducing an age-appropriate toy to a child and then observing as the child is developmentally unable, initially, to appropriately interact with the toy. “Hum”, I thought as I watched our bird press his little featured body up against the corner of his cage, “My bird is developmentally delayed! Cool. I know just what to do.”
We started by talking to him----a lot. We’d approach his cage, and talk to him softly. “Who’s a pretty bird?” I’d ask him this over and over again until he began to move close to us when we spoke to him.
Tok is a bird with amazing potential. The children I work with possess enormous potential. We are all geniuses in that each of us brings something unique to the world that has never been offered before. The children I work with all have this genius. It is my job to help them showcase it to the rest of the world. They do the work. I simply assist, and when they find the courage to finally stand on their own, whether it’s on my finger, (like our little Tok), or on their own two feet for the very first time in the middle of their parent’s living room, I feel enormous joy.
It seems amazing to me that Tok has courageously progressed to become the bird he is today. Next, ----- we’re going to start working on language development!