By age 4 my daughter could say words but her vocabulary was that id a 2 year old and she definitely was putting sentences together. She started speech therapy when she was almost 3 but no real progress and lots of frustration, screaming and crying when she knew we were making the turn that would take us to the therapists office 3 times a week. She had been diagnosed with developmental speech delay. I knew there was more to it but the doctors just wouldn’t listen. Next I took her to a weekly play group that was run by therapists OT and Speech there was just her for a couple of weeks which she was ok with but then they brought in several peers and it became a serious task getting her to group every week. The screaming could be heard through the entire school. It was only 2 hours long but it would feel like an eternity to me. Especially since this girl of mine was NEVER left my eye site. Well I must say there was very little improvement in her speech and communication after several months of play group and then came summer vacation.
Throughout the summer we worked hard at getting her to make and maintain eye contact. And even though this little girl was use to just going into the kitchen and preparing her food we started requiring her to verbal ask for what she was looking for. We would take her to the park and try to get her to play with others but she still had no interest. But on the other hand she would try to play with her brothers friends ages 11 & 12. There her eyes would light up and you could hear her squealing with such joy playing tag, hide and seek and on the see saw where 1 friend would spot her to make sure she didn’t fall and 2 boys on the other end pushing the seat down and up. This is where I really saw she could socialize but what I also saw was in this situation the boys weren’t trying to hold her hand and make her play baby doll. Most of the kids her age were way to touchy feely and she would naturally pull away. So I filed this observation away for future use 🙂
Summer is over Isabella now can speak words but just the ones that she needs definitely not conversational. Her eye contact is awesome. She started preschool. This preschool is an Inclusive preschool with both neuro-typical children as well as special needs. The my baby girl hated this school! Or maybe I shouldn’t say school but she didn’t like the new environment and really disliked the teacher. (I will elaborate on that on another post as I really think there are a lot of warning signs parents need to look for before placing your child in the wrong environment as their 1st experience away from their home) But to sum it up the teacher had no desire to teach preschoolers let alone special needs. No this isn’t me coming up with my own conclusions she told me this herself after I had been there for a few months. You see my daughter had such a hard time that I decided to volunteer to stay all day everyday for a few months and I believe after a while the teacher forgot I was a parent and not a staff so when I asked about it she let it slip that she was forced there and much preferred 5th grade where she had been for 16 years. So now I am more involved than ever but after a while they asked me to stop coming. I would pull her out early (after lunch before nap) because I felt there was no reason to keep her there to sleep and eat a snack. But from the time she woke up to the time she went to bed at night I played a special dvd series on every TV in the house and car.
So before I reveal the DVD I want all of you to know that this is a series I use religiously and no I don’t get one penny to say this. I am passionate about this find because it gave my daughter a voice and in 3 months she her vocabulary went from 20 words to at least 300. I have to say she is still not conversational but she can follow a conversation her responses verify that she’s heard and understood what I’ve told her but if she’s nit interested in the topic she will give one worded answers. For example: Tell me about your day at school? Good. What did you do today? Play games. So what I’ve done is take her answer and form a sentence for her and make her repeat. I had a good day at school. I played domino math game with my teacher. Now when I ask her questions she will normally answer me in full sentences unless there is something distracting her. I don’t force her to have eye contact some of the best communication that we have had has been while she is playing with her toys as long as she’s engaged with me I let her be but if she’s to distracted I take it away and then she earns it back by speaking. Ok so the DVD series is called “Signing Time” it is a fun catch way to learning ASL (American Sign Language). Every single dvd focuses on one thing such as Happy Birthday every word that she teaches has to do with birthday parties gift cake candle etc. She teaches 3 words at a time and each word is repeated a lot there will be about 10 different kids typical and special needs of all degrees signing the word and visually the kids will be doing whatever the word is in different places. A cake is a cake no matter who’s house and what color and size it’s still a cake. Then also the word C-A-K-E will be spelled at the top of the screen. Most autistic people are very visual so hearing the word seeing the word in action and seeing how it’s spell over and over again really helped my daughter put it in her memory bank. So they teach 2 more words like this and then she adds it to a song and every time the words come up you sign them together with her. Then she moves on to the next 3 words and repeats the process. Other parts of the DVD will include things that are on every DVD the intro song very catchy you will be singing and signing this song everywhere cause it’s sticks! The alphabet and counting in sign. She always signs the alphabet now as she sings it in class. When she gets nervous and overwhelmed she goes straight to signing. She may not speak when she’s scared but she will sign. The only problem I’ve come across is not everyone that takes care of her can understand sign language. But we are working hard on her speaking as she signs. So there you have it in a matter of one year now she can speak conversationally, Sign, read and spell (writing she can but not willingly so I won’t add that to the list :P) Now her conversational speech is on what she wants to talk about so if it’s a topic she’s not interested in we go back to one worded answers ….. baby steps
These DVD’s are not cheap they run about $300 for a whole volume. But to make it more affordable you can buy 1 DVD at a time or buy used lots on Ebay. I was able to purchase mine for $99 The seller wanted 200 obo so I made an offer and he took it! And they have a lot of mini clips on YouTube I will link to one below.
Please feel free to ask questions below. I may not know all the answers but maybe someone passing through will see the question and have an answer 🙂 Oh and also I type most of my blog posts on my cell phone when I get a chance here and there so if I have typos please understand that I’m trying to get my experiences out to my readers so if you see typos sure let me know 🙂
Here is a sample clip of Signing Time I found on YouTube