Mylie’s Mom asked these questions in the comments, and I thought they deserved a whole post of their own. She writes:
Niksmom said, “Help your child find a way of communicating that is effective and let them develop from there.” Do you all have ideas for doing this? What methods have you found to be helpful? At what age did you child seem to grasp the potential of signing in communicating – when did they really start to take interest in learning new ones in order to be able to communicate their wants?
I sometimes feel like the poster girl for enthusiastic advocacy, because we’ve tried so many things with Avery. Very early on, we did massage therapy and we saw an alternative therapist (a healer with a specialty in helping people understand and receive the messages from their body) and I was very seriously considering supplements. We did horn therapy, too, a program using different types of instruments that make sounds, and we did sign language (which I had done with Carter, too, so that was more of a familiar part of my parenting experience). We took pictures of things around the house and made story boards for Avery to look at and point to. I read to him, too, a lot. We did Love and Learning, listening to the tapes at bedtime. Avery had music lessons (piano) and then he had playgroups and interactions with his brothers and too, parents of friends and family.
All I can say in my defense is that I felt a little bit like we’d gotten a late start with things, that I’d spent too much time in my grief and not enough time really seeing Avery, and that as soon as the clouds of sadness lifted, I found myself hopelessly in love with this little guy, whom I would do anything (and everything) for.
I still feel the love, which has only continued to grow and grow. But the rest of it, the feeling that we needed to do everything and try everything, has settled down a lot. Why? The answer is Avery. As he’s grown, and become able to show me what he needs, what he likes, what he’s interested in, I’ve relaxed into my role as his mom. I consider myself a facilitator–he shows me what he needs, and I try to find ways to help him achieve it.
Which is a long way of saying: we still do signing (our whole family loves Signing Time). He loves Sesame Street (me too, Hi Emily Perl Kingsley!). We do very typical preschool type things, Montessori style hands-on learning, because he responds to that very well. We’re doing a more formal approach to reading, I’m using sight words as well as phonics (almost everything in our house has a sticky with its name spelled out on it).
We read a lot, we do art. Avery still enjoys piano but currently he’s more in love with his guitar, and very recently, he’s begun to swing it up on his shoulder and pluck it like a violin. So maybe that’s next for us.
Molly, our fantastic speech therapist, explained it to me best–it’s a whole language approach. Total immersion in communication, in all forms. It’s been wonderful, and I can’t stress this enough–so much fun. That’s been key for us–learning happens when it feels safe, and supported, and fun!
I’d love to know what things you all have tried…for Mylie’s Mom, and for myself. What’s the best speech therapy experience you’ve had? What’s the worst? What works, and what doesn’t?