About 2 weeks ago Ainsley started moving her jaw/lips/tongue when she vocalizes. For awhile I questioned whether Ainsley would ever figure out this critical piece. She is almost 4 years old. Pam was the first person ever to say that Ainsley will talk. I really respect her opinion she has 30 years experience and is very well respected in her field. I appreciated her confidence. But....we needed to see this final piece fall into place to be sure. Or I guess I did. Pam probably knew from experience based on what she observed in Ainsley but I wasn't as sure. Now I can say I really think she will speak. For a very long time I have heard Ainsley "say things" that sounded like a complete sentence but it was as if she was a really BAD ventriloquist. The lips were slightly open but not moving though her intonation pattern matched the words I suspected she was saying. I'd read in Pam's book that caregivers frequently don't recognize their children's first words as words because they don't sound "right" (we're talking kids with serious speech issues). Things are way not going to sound right if you don't move your jaw/lips/tongue! So this makes sense and I was glad to know I wasn't crazy.
I'm so excited by this change!
In addition to treating Ainsley as if the words she says sound right, and encouraging her to "use her voice" throughout the day we have also done some massage. Pam said that Ainsley was too tight from low tone and trying to hold her body in position so we tried to loosen up her shoulders, neck and face muscles, focusing specifically on the jaw which was very stiff. I'm not sure which piece was most helpful but I believe that this progress is directly related to working with Pam and this subtly different approach.
I've always been the kind of mom who was really unsure of her kid's milestones. Is one step walking, 3 steps, how far do they have to walk before it's really "walking" and not just step taking? Was that utterance a first word? Heck if I knew. Until a stranger could recognize the word in question as a real word, I was never sure it counted. Oddly both my older two kids first words were "Uh-oh". Maybe because I could be sure about that. It was easy to tell when an "Uh-oh." happened and was accompanied by the corresponding word. On the other hand "Mu." could be "Ma (mama), more, my, milk." So I guess, looking back, I'd have to say that Ainsley has said the word up for months but I just wasn't sure it was real because what she says is "Uuuh". But of course a kid like Ainsley isn't able to say plosives. P is likely a long way off in her repertoire of sounds. But when she wants up she say "Uuuh." so I guess I'm going to count that as word #1. We heard a little "Uh-uh and Uh-huh." for a few weeks. Maybe those count. Now we are hearing "Naaa." which I'm pretty sure is "No." or a variation of "nu-uh". We've even heard her say "uh-uuhh-uuuuh" with the right intonation when asked to say "I love you" at bed time. It still warms my heart even if it doesn't sound "right". What is cool is that she is TRYING to say all kinds of things. The first step in anything is being motivated to try.
Clearly speech that can be understood by a stranger is a LONG way off. But this is progress and I'll take it!
Here is a list of Ainsley's signs in the approximate order learned since she was a baby. Same thing, looking back I'd have to say Ainsley learned the sign for all done when she was about 9 months old. Only her nurse taught it with one hand. We were afraid she was "stimming" but she was saying all done. She did it all the time! It must be hard having a mom that is so slow to catch on. Her signing is imprecise but when you see it like this it's clear she knows what she's doing, it's just difficult for her to execute the motor skills. I think it's time to teach her some more.
- all done
- thank you