Sure, she can talk. I relish every word, too. I remember the days when she couldn't. I remember wondering if she ever would, because so many with autism do not. Now she talks. She talks pretty much non-stop. Sometimes, it drives me crazy and I feel immediately guilty for thinking that, because some of you have yet to hear the sound of your child's voice -- some of you might never hear that sound.
I do, however, need you to understand that although Kate can talk, her communication is mostly unreliable. If the interaction is one that we have practiced time and again, the she might get it right with just a few errors. But, if the conversation is new to her she will unlikely be able to process it correctly and her response, if any at all, will be unreliable and make little sense.
Can Kate tell you about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Sure. In a heartbeat.
Could she tell you what she wants for her birthday? Sure thing.
Can she tell you what she did today at school? Nope.
Could she tell you who she was or where she lived if lost? Not a chance.
Kate also struggles to recognize people. She still mixes up the identities of people she sees day in and day out. Much like her nickname for her pal on the plane, she will choose a name for you that is familiar to her. If you fit the bill, you may get the handle she sees fit. For example, many of the ladies in the line behind us at the grocery store are called Grandma. She knows they are not her Grandma, but that's where her brain goes when she wishes to address them. (Yes, in completely related news, she addresses strangers daily -- this speaks to her dangerous trust of the world around her as stated in previous posts).
Why am I telling you all this? Not because I want you to know that verbal does't mean what you think it means, although that may be the case, but because autism is a social communicative disorder, and we need to remember that.