Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now, we're talkin'

By being such a blogging slacker, I've really missed out on opportunities to keep a good record of what Hana's doing. She is developing so fast! Of course, this is all new to us. Mieko's development was completely different. I feel like a brand new parent.

It's funny to look back at my worries last year, when she was about 18 months old and only saying four words... "hi", "no", "Dada", and "uh-oh". Most developmental checklists will say a child has about 50 words at that age. I asked every speech therapist I knew for advice. I realized she was communicating with sounds and gestures, which was key. She also experimented with sounds, but just didn't have a lot of words. I learned some of the tried and true techniques for promoting speech.... information talk (narrating everything you do), following the child's lead, and giving them a reason to talk (don't do everything for them). We worked hard on filling her receptive language bank with words. If you want a child to talk, then you have to talk to them. But, you also have to give them time and space to talk too. Wait time doesn't come naturally to a lot of us, but teachers and therapists know it's important.

Hana is now two years and three months old. She has at least a couple hundred words (we stopped counting) and she's saying sentences like these...

"I like peanut butter"
"I missed you Daddy"
"Say hi kitties" (this means she wants to go upstairs and pet her kitties)
"I don't like it"
"Hana, stinky farts"
"Sit here Daddy"
"Come here Honey" (kitty Jordan)
"I see piggy toes"
"Where going?"
"What doing Mommy?"
"I love you"

We also worked on communication with Mieko, but in much different ways. I don't know of any children or adults with full Trisomy 18 that are verbal. Though Mieko didn't have words, she communicated with smiles and so many expressions. She made sounds and some gestures. We used sign language when speaking with her, but she did not sign. She used pushed buttons to activate toys and the touch screen on a computer. We were thinking about getting some kind of augmentative communication device for her. Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance before she passed away. We spent a lot of time repeating and responding to her sounds and expressions. She still let us know just how she was feeling. She loved to clap and we will never forget all the raspberries.

The challenges are completely different now, but the lessons from Mieko stay with us too. There's so much to learn, but we are learning together and having a great time.

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