Monday, April 4, 2011

Speech Ramblings

So Henry's speech therapy. This post might ramble a little (a lot), because honestly I have a lot of mixed feelings about it in general, and when I have mixed feelings I seem to KEEP TALKING. Just as fair warning.

The first thing I want to say is how proud I am of him. His language is definitely improving. The other day, for the very first time, Nick asked where I was and Henry turned around and yelled "MAMA?". It was amazing. I know it sounds small, but for him to not just say 'Mama", but to use it... it felt huge. But as for his actual therapy sessions...I guess I can go ahead and say that I am not 100% thrilled with them. I mean, his therapist is nice. She really is. And Henry seems to truly like her, which is a plus. I had these visions of her coming to the house and him shrieking and running away in terror. Luckily that isn't the case. She comes right in with her suitcase on wheels full of new and fun toys and he plops right down beside her and they play. And she talks. And he plays. And then the hour is over and she leaves.

I don't know what speech therapy is suppose to look like for an almost two year old, and I know some of you all do, so I am very interested in what you say about it, but it just doesn't feel like he is picking it up. Or at least not from her. She doesn't really talk to him. She just says the names of things that they are playing with. Again and again. And Again. And she doesn't say, "Look Henry! A block! Can you say block? Is this a block? B-B-B-B-block!" Which... okay, I am not a speech therapist. I freely admit that (like it's some secret) and I don't know what they are suppose to do, but what she says is "Block. Block. Block. Block. Stack block. Stack. Stack. Stack. CRASH! Block CRASH!" And from my point of view it just seems like he doesn't even realize he is suppose to be trying to say the words. I mean, sometimes he says "Ba!" and she says "YES! BLOCK!" and writes it down as a word he used. But it doesn't feel like he is even trying, because he doesn't seem to know he is suppose to. It just feels like he is playing with blocks with the nice lady.

I don't know. Maybe I am expecting too much. He is 22 months old. And I totally knew it was an hour of play time full of talking, so I wasn't surprised by that. I knew he wouldn't sit at the table and copy lines or anything. It's just I feel like we get much more language out of him that she does. And I am hesitant to start using her way (just repeating words again and again and again) when he seems to really try to say words and sounds when we use the "Look Henry! It's a duck! Can you say Duck? the duck says 'quack'!" method instead of "duck. duck. duck. duck (goose)".

I don't mean to complain. I really don't. He is making progress, which then of course makes me wonder if what she is doing IS really helping him. He is using sign language really well. Like shockingly well. And I have guilt that we didn't push this earlier. (Oh the mom guilt. Isn't if fun?) And they told us to use the signs, but that was the evaluator, not the therapist. Since then we have really taken that ball and ran with it, but not really with help from his therapist. She uses 'all done' but that's really it. And he does seem to be using more language, which is the main thing. He told his Great-Nana "Mu" for music, and we are thrilled with it. But I just don't feel like I can credit his therapy with this new development. Maybe I am not giving her enough credit. I just don't know.

We like his therapist, it's just that after a month of sessions, last Wednesday he didn't really say a single word in his session. He ran around and played, but he didn't try to talk to her. And that was after a week of us really feeling like he was making progress at home. But is the progress somehow tied to his therapy, or is it because he is just picking it up more? Because we are working with him non-stop in our own way. I just don't know.

So I guess I am asking you all what you experienced with speech therapy. Is this normal? I have asked her about trying to prompt him to talk more, and she said he needs to do it on his own. But what if he doesn't seem to be picking up on her desire for him to repeat these words? Maybe this is just how it is. Therapy is only an hour a week. I shouldn't expect miracles. And I do know it is our job to work with him during the week, which we are. I guess I did expect him to try to talk at least a little during his sessions. Sigh.

This parenting stuff. It's sorta hard sometimes. But also really really awesome.
Mama and her sweet boy. Just because it felt like this post would end better with a picture.

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  1. I have no advice from a speech therapy standpoint as I know nothing about it, but if you haven't heard of them, the Signing Time DVDs are great for learning sign language! Start with the baby ones to learn basic words. Most libraries carry them, too, so you don't have to spend the money on them.

    Good luck!

  2. Sorry, I have no advice either. I will say that my daughter has "speech" therapy - which is really a speech therapist who does eating therapy - once per week and it feels like it isn't working, either. How can it work in such a little amount of therapy per week? But, we're going to wait and see - for a little while longer. It's just so frustrating because what we do isn't working either, so we might as well let the professional take a shot. But, I feel your frustration. Oh, I resisted the sign language for a long time and feel no guilt about it. In fact, if we didn't have the nanny who resisted my instructions not to use it, they wouldn't know any of it. It is useful now, I suppose. And kind of cute.

  3. I don't have any advice on speech therapy, but I have an almost 22 month old who talks a lot. I think it's very very good that Henry is now saying the first syllable of words! My little boy did the same thing when he was first trying to talk. He would only say the first part of every word (Cu for cup, Wa for watch, etc). I didn't think he was ever going to say whole words, but he did and now he says whole sentences. So, please be encouraged! I think it sounds like Henry is progressing and trying to start talking. I say if you see him making progress but don't like the method the speech therapist is using, then explore other options. You are his mom and you know what is best for him!

  4. I work in a daycare and we have quite a few kids who are around the 2 year old mark and in speech therapy.. I have been in the room with them and observed and what you are describing has seemed to be the norm.. They don't really push them to learn any words specifically, but more seem to just talk to the child while they are playing, as you described.. I know for older children they work on specific words and sounds.. The therapy has worked very well for the little ones at my center.. One little guy didn't really start blossoming until it had been over 6-7 months.. Just hang in there.. Sounds like you guys are doing good in working with him at home as well.. Henry will get it! Good luck! :)

  5. this sounds about normal for me as far as speech therapy goes, but, pleasek now, with Frist Steps, if you're not satisfied with the therapis, you have the right to request another one(and you certainly wouldn't be the first). One thing you might try, if you aren't already doing it, is make him at least attempt to say something before you give it to him. It goes along with her repeating thing. If he's indicating that he wants milk (by grunting, pointing, whatever it is that he does), said "milk, henry wants milk. Milk, Henry? Can you say milk? Milk, do you want milk?", etc... you get the point. He has to make at least an effort in order to get it. Sometimes kids don't really realize that there's a benefit in using words if they already get what they want without it. Once they realize there's a benefit, they take off.
    Good luck!

  6. and, please, ignore all those typos! typing and nursing, you know how that goes...

  7. Just wanted to share that Audrey didn't say a word until almost 19 months. Nothing. Not. A. Word.

    Speech therapy and 2 years later - the kid won't be quiet. Take heart. :)

  8. I have been meaning to respond to this post and am finally getting to it.

    I had to laugh when you quoted the therapist and I was like, "Hey, that sounds like me all day long" (with some exceptions and changes of course). The idea behind the short and simple language is that you want to model the way you expect Henry to talk. If you want him to talk in single words, use single words while playing with him. This will make him much more likely to imitate. If you use longer phrases he's less likely to try to say it all. Children learn through imitating. You would be amazed that it seems like the 100th time you say a word, the kid just comes out and repeats it. Repetition is very powerful and important at that age.

    Speech therapy for a two year old is all done through play. There are strategies used during play, but it probably looks like she just comes and plays. Children at his age learn through play (that's his "job").

    I have to disagree with her not wanting to prompt him. Is he is imitating willingly, than she should run with it. He may need to be empowered through imitating first. A lot of kids figure out they can do it after they are pushed a bit to imitate. Then they start to take off without needing prompts.

    If you would like a resource that is parent friendly I love the book It Takes Two to Talk. Check it out!

    Hope this helped and I'm glad the session went better this week. It definitely takes time. I tell families not to expect much progress for 4-6 weeks at least since it's not going to happen overnight. You always can change therapists though if her personal style doesn't mesh with your and Henry's needs.