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.