Yes and No...is that a question?

It's been an interesting challenge to teach Burke about "questions". A question can be very abstract for him and difficult to understand. I don't think he realizes how in the world to respond when I sit with my head tilted to one side, eyes focused on him and a questioning look in my eyes. Either he changes to a different topic, runs away or just stares back at me until...
Below is an example of our typical morning conversation...
Mama: Burke, do you want milk or juice?
Burke: milk
Mama: Okay, do you want it in a blue or yellow cup?
Burke: yellow (he says this beautifully and I love it when he chooses yellow!)
Mama: Okay, here is your milk

This week:
Mama: Do you want juice? Yes or No
Burke: No
Mama: Do you want milk? Yes or No
Burke: Yes
Mama repeats to help Burke form full sentence: Yes, I want milk please
Burke repeats: Yes, I want milk please (using total communication)

Mama: Do you want milk?
Burke: Yes, I want milk please
Mama: Wow!

The yes or no response has overflowed to other areas of his communication. If I ask him to answer with a yes or no at the end of a question he now understands (most of the time) that a question requires him to respond. I also realize that he needs about a 10 second wait time to respond...I've known this for a long time but it's very hard to wait! :)

We'll be continuing to work on yes and no answers to questions. Our therapist Katie at Seattle Childrens gave me a few helpful tips:
1.) Use different body positioning when signing yes or no to differentiate that there is a choice. For example, Yes is signed toward the right side of the body while No is signed toward the left.
2.) Ask yes and no questions throughout the day and give a lot of choices. Not only does this help him learn about answering questions, it gives him power and control and reduced temper tantrums! yeah, we like that!


  1. He stares a lot at me when I ask him questions too. At first I thought maybe I was singing things wrong and he wasn't understanding...but that can't be it or he'd be laughing at me. :) Asking yes and no is helping a lot. You're so great Chris, seriously. You're always reinventing the way you do things to help Burke be the best he can possibly be. God knew exactly what he was doing when he put you and Nate in charge of Burke. Love you guys!

  2. I found your blog through the SEE website! Your stories are encouraging my heart and journey more than I could express!