Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Monday, February 21, 2011

He Will Read

I am beside myself with excitement. Last night we put in a DVD for my son to watch. It's from the "My Baby Can Read" reading system. He's watched this one a few times but not very consistently. My husband and I were watching it with him and the word "dog" flashed up on the screen. My son looked at it and then made the sign for dog. No one said the word, there was not a picture of a dog, only the word and he READ it. Yep, he did. A few minutes later, "cat" came up on the TV screen and he made the sign for cat. Again, he READ the word. He had no hints, he had no other clues except for the actual word.

What a huge accomplishment and proof that he can read. Wow! I'm thrilled.

I've taught my kids to read. I don't send them to kindergarten and spend that year with them teaching them through a phonics program. We also learn math and other skills, but reading is our main emphasis. A reader can learn anything because reading opens up the world. My first grader has now read 650 books by herself. We recently had a read-a-thon at the elementary school and in two weeks she read over 800 minutes. Most of my kids go into school reading above grade level. I teach them myself because I never wanted any of them to fall through the cracks and end up not reading.

Since I've taught my other kids to read, I plan to teach my youngest son to read, but I was concerned he might not be able to read. I know that many kids with Down syndrome read, but some don't and I wasn't sure what to expect. I tend to have high expectations for my kids and I just wasn't sure what I could expect with him. Now I know. He will read. He will be able to immerse himself in the world of books and I am so excited for him to do that.

I bought a book about teaching children with Down syndrome to read in hopes that I'd be able to teach my son. And now I know. He will read! Yay!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Speech Goals

The therapist is very happy with my son's progress, especially in how quickly he's picking up signs. Our goals until we have our next session are: combining up to 5 signs when requesting something, commenting on the world around him using 2-3 signs, and using more than one sign to communicate why he doesn't want to do something. He has no problem telling me, "No," but the therapist wants him to explain why he doesn't want to do something or why he's finished with something. We'll see how it goes.

We'll also be working on the following sounds: boo, bee, bye, bow, moo, me, my, mow.

I'm going to read Play to Talk by James MacDonald and Pam Stoika and see if I can glean some more advice on helping my son to speak. He has no problem at all communicating or interacting with others. He only has issues when it comes to verbal communication. But, that will come.

Now, if only I can figure out how to outsmart him when it comes to electronic gadgets . . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

4 Signs

At my son's last therapy appointment, his therapist was very pleased with his progress. He's using signs more frequently and he not only used a single sign to communicate to her what he wanted, he combined two signs. He also met other goals such as knowing at least five body parts and making comments about things (like pointing to a ball and making the sign for "ball").

She set new goals for him: combining three signs and using at least two signs to comment on things he sees or hears. This morning, I was so excited when he combined four, yes four, signs. He signed, "want," "cereal," "more," and "prayer" and then he bowed his head. He communicated that he wanted to eat but we needed to say the blessing on the food first. Yay!

His therapist doesn't want him to learn sign language per se, but rather just enough signs to communicate what he needs or wants right now so he can then make the transition into speaking. That's what I want also. It's thrilling to see him progress and use signs more to communicate. He's still pointing when he doesn't know the sign for something, but he uses signs for things he does know. I can't wait until he speaks so I can hear what's on his little mind.

Yay for progress!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review: It Takes Two to Talk

My son has been in speech therapy for the last few months. He sees his therapist once each week. She does some good things with him, but he needs to be involved every day in developing his speech so I've been reading books hoping to learn some techniques to help him.

Since I live in the boonies, I frequently turn to Amazon for my book needs. I looked at several different books including It Takes Two to Talk by Jan Pepper and Elaine Weitzman. When I asked the therapist to recommend a book, she actually gave me this one to read.

It has some good advice. The authors suggest you OWL with your child. Observe. Wait. Listen. Instead of forcing a conversation, observe what you child is interested in. Ask him about it and wait for his response and then listen to that response.

This book suggests first teaching your child to take turns so he understands that conversations are about taking turns. If you let your child take the lead (sometimes hard to do) and are tuned-in to what he wants and/or is interested in then it's easier to have a conversation with him.

The book also has some checklists to see what communication stage your child is at: Discoverer, Communicator, First Word User, Combiner. My son is between the stages First Word User and Combiner. The authors emphasize that a First Word User doesn't necessarily use words but may use signs and a Combiner is one who uses more than one sign to communicate something. Today, my son used signs to ask for an ice cream. He combined the signs for "please" and "ice cream." He also uses the sign for "want" with other signs. He uses the sign for "all done" frequently. He has a signing vocabulary of about 30 words and is learning new ones every day.

I learned some things from this book. It retails for over $50 and I'm not sure I'd pay that. If you can get it at the library or borrow it from a therapist, it's worth reading.