Friday, September 28, 2007

Signing & Speech

I’m so happy to report that Ethan seems to be making some progress with speech lately. He’s taking a very interesting route towards speech, not the usual babble stage followed by the meaningful repetition of consonant vowel combinations (bu-bu, dada, mama). This seems to be entirely his own process; he’s not going about it in any kind of typical fashion. Go figure.

Ethan has an uncanny ability to repeat vocal and musical patterns back, in nearly perfect pitch or intonation as well as rhythm. He does so by making a series of short or long humming types of sounds. He is basically trying to speak without opening his mouth.

Our speech therapist (who rocks!) was telling me that a lot of Ci kids will experience growth in one area at a time, either auditorily or with speech. It seems that Ethan has been fine-tuning his audition all these months. He recently heard the Old McDonald song as played by an electronic toy. I’d say he heard it play through 2 or possibly 3 times at the most, and then he looked at us and proceeded to repeat the musical pattern pitch for pitch with the perfect rhythm. We were floored. (As far as I know, that was the first time he’d ever heard that particular tune.)

In speech and at home we are working on showing him our mouths and exaggerating those movements while we speak. We’re also teaching him to hum the “mmm” sound while he signs the word "more". At least that way we are getting him started on the path of vocalizing while signing.

He continues to sign all the time and now he’s starting to make his little vocalizations with the signs. For instance, he will sign the word "cup" while vocalizing the sound “uh uh” over and over. He can’t hit that k or p sounds, but the vowel in the middle is no trouble.

I'd like to create a list of his signs as his vocabulary builds each week. It’s over 100 signs now for sure. He has an remarkable ability to learn them from just one viewing, and then call them up anytime he wants to use them. It’s that native language thing through and through. He’s a natural with sign and will probably be a visual learner throughout his lifetime.

So though the speech isn’t coming at quite the pace or clip that we were expecting, this has certainly been an interesting process, one that cultivates a profound sense of patience. It makes the good old days of teaching 7th grade seem like a breeze.


Kyla said...

It is so interesting to watch these developments. For neurotypical kids, it seems to unfold without fanfare, at least it did for BubTar. It just happened. With KayTar it is fits and starts, and because of that I am so much more tuned into how things are progressing. It is miraculous how it all comes together.

Nikkicole said...

that last sentance was a laugh and a half

Hetha said...


So true, we're viewing it under a lense, that's for sure. And one of my best friends is in SLP graduate school, taking neurosciene classes, checking out brain tissue, etc. We'll be having some great convo's over the next few years. And I think (hope) that you and I will as well.

Hetha said...


I'm glad to know I could put a smile on that face today sweetie. You're in my thoughts!

Miss. S

KC said...

It's fascinating, from a developmental standpoint, his progression. I'm glad you're documenting all of this. He's an amazing boy.

slouching mom said...

Wasn't it Beethoven, who, though he had significant hearing loss, composed what many believe to be his finest symphony, the ninth?

I'd bet on Ethan every time!

Hetha said...

I'm glad to have found this medium to record stuff as well, it's much easier for me than writing in a journal.

Slouching Mom,
Wow! Yes! I had forgotton, but you are so right. Wonderful thoughts to sleep on, thanks.

Emily said...

Noah did the humming thing too for a while. It was too cute! I actually have a video of Noah humming his ABCs. I'll have to post it on my blog later so you can see. BTW, can I add a link to your blig on my blog?

Eileen said...

It is so amazing how the brain works and processes information. It is so amazing and interesting to me about the song. Ethan is showing he is going to learn it his way, but the cool part is he is getting it. The progress is coming, maybe not up to the standards set by the Speech Therapists or Medical Professionals, but on Ethan's time. I think the fact that he is moving foward, making progress each day is such a good sign. He clearly gets things, he understands. I honestly think he will soon start growing in leaps and bounds. Kids can grow so quickly during these years, and he has shown so many other signs that he is moving in that direction. Plus, as parents, you are doing everything possible. He could not have better parents. It will all come together, easy for me to say, but worrying and what ifs will get you no where, except in a total anxiety state. Celebrate the baby steps and know bigger steps are around the corner.

PS Thanks for the mail. I will be getting back to you. I just got home a little while ago. I appreciated it, and I want a pumpkin muffin!!!

hilby said...

Consonants!! Hooray! I love to read about his progress and can't wait to see him when I'm back to work.