Friday, April 22, 2011

Yakkity Yak

Reed's catching on, folks.

He's really catching on.

We've had eight weeks of speech therapy with Alison. She comes to our home on Thursdays at 12:15 and "works" with Reed on his speech. I use the word "work" loosely as it's a lot more play than it is work. ;) Or rather, it's play disguised as work, as Reed is definitely working on his words! Speech therapy for small children is play-oriented, using toys and books as learning tools. Alison interacts with Reed through play, using therapy techniques to work on vocabulary development and speech patterns.

In our first session, she introduced us to basic sign language. While we can't make Reed talk, she said, we can teach him the importance of communication. By communicating, he gets what he wants. She showed us the signs for "more," "want," "help," "done," and a few others. She also showed us some techniques for word development. Using a farm toy, she would hold each animal up to her lips and make sure Reed was looking at her/her lips before saying the word. She would annunciate the consonants and letter sounds, and wait for Reed to imitate.

He's really good at imitation. ;)

And in that first session, Reed caught on almost immediately. Before the hour was through, he was using the signs on his own to communicate his needs. Alison commented that, because he picked up so quickly, he is definitely ready and wanting to speak. It's just a matter of helping him develop the right sounds and providing him tools to exercise his mouth and tongue so that he can form words. Throughout the past eight weeks, not only has Alison worked with Reed one-on-one but she is also providing me with the tools and techniques that I can use when she isn't here - which is the remaining 167 hours in the week!

Yesterday, we had our six month evaluation of Reed (while Reed has only had two months of actual therapy, he was first evaluated back in October, and at that time, we had decided to delay therapy for a few months to see if he would catch on by himself...hence, a six month evaluation and not a two month evaluation). Anyway...Alison had done an informal eval of him last week at our session, and had Reed marked at the 18 month old speech level. This is an improvement from a 37% delay to a 32% delay...AND...that is six months of progress in two months of therapy! (He was measuring at a 12 month old speech level when we began.) At this rate, he'll be yakking away in no time!

Reed's vocabulary is booming. He spoke about five recognizable words two months ago, and now his words are overflowing. Some would not be distinguishable to others, as he needs to work on forming the first consonant sound (like when he says "pig" it sounds like "ig"; or when he says "stop" it sounds like "op"), but to those of us who are around him enough and hear him speaking in context, we definitely know what he's saying. He can imitate almost any word (or at least attempts to) and has a working vocabulary of over 60 words. When therapy first started, he had about two new words each week; this last week, he had nine new words. Reed's next goal is to begin to develop and use more two- and three-word phrases.

We will continue with therapy until, to my understanding, he has completely caught up with his age. We'll continue to work with Alison, and the Early Intervention Program, until Reed turns three (if he's still in therapy at that time), and then we'll begin transitioning his therapy over to a program in the school district.

We are so so proud of Reed, and so so thankful for Alison. She is so wonderful at her job, and with Reed. I'm pretty sure Reed has a bit of a crush on her. Whenever I say, "Alison's coming today!" he replies with "ALI!!!!"

I took a few pictures yesterday so you can get an idea of what therapy looks like.

Learning colors, numbers, and shapes with a clock.

Learning animal and letter sounds with a barn.

Reed has become sooooo comfortable with Alison; he just helps himself to all of her toys in her big toy bag!

Fishing for words!

Learning new verbs with Webber Photo Cards.

Here are some other toys in Alison's arsenol:

Learning body parts with Mr. Potato Head.

Learning colors with Pop-Up Pirate game.

Learning anything and everything with the chalkboard (Alison will write letters or draw pictures).

Learning direction words (up, over, there, here) while blowing bubbles.

Alison has an assortment of books, but Reed has yet to choose to play with one. :)

The possibilities are endless for learning while we bowl!

Reed definitely learns words when playing with these toys, but there is so much more that he learns just by interacting with Alison and the toys, like phrasing, annunciation, and communicating his needs.

It is definitely a playful, educational hour for all of us!

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