Communication Vs. Speech

a while back, i had to take a class at the KCC called “It Takes Two to Talk” in order for Ozzie to be paired up with a SLP. The class attendance is mandatory, if you miss more than 2 classes, you must take it again.  They’re pretty hard core.  There was homework and everything… they told me this was their way of weeding out those people who didn’t really want the appointments, those parents/guardians who would make appointments and then not show.  Essentially, if you made it through the classes and the home sessions, they knew you were serious about Speech Therapy.

As Ozzie has facial paralysis and what looks to be a smallish tongue, of course, he will need Speech Therapy, so i reluctantly went to each class… and i’ll admit, i wasn’t much of a joiner in this class.  Speech Classes are generally geared towards ‘older’ kids… kids who should be speaking already and aren’t, not babies.  So, i felt that a lot of the class didn’t apply to our situation yet.

But i did learn a few valuable tidbits – such as (Observe, Wait, Listen) – giving your child TIME to communicate… and that parents tend to bombard their children with questions, instead of building their vocabulary.

for example:
“what’s this?”
“where’s the dog?”
“where’s Ozzie?”
“Can you find the butterfly?”

this can lead to frustration, if the child doesn’t have the vocabulary, and they feel pressure to answer the question and instead of being wrong, they don’t try.

So, instead, when reading a book instead of saying: “Where’s the bear??” you could just point to the bear and say… “Here’s a bear.” this way you’re giving him a word to associate with the picture.  So, i’ve been trying to just give Ozzie vocabulary, instead of continually ‘quizzing’ him.  It’s tough, because the inclination is to fall back to those old questions… “What’s this?”  “Where’s that?”

Probably the most important thing i took away from the six classes (yes, six) was the difference between Communication and Speech.

Our society puts so much emphasis on the spoken word.  So, naturally, if your child is not SPEAKING, you think they’re not SAYING anything.  well, this isn’t always the case.

I felt good about how much Ozzie was communicating once i had gone through the classes.  I started to notice ways he was telling us what he wanted…  that – and lately he’s been learning signs like crazy!

Back in August, when we had our first initial consult with SLP (before the class) – Ozzie had about 3 signs.  Dada, milk, ball – and Jenn (the SLP) was thrilled!

We finally have an appointment to OFFICIALLY meet with Jenn at the end of the month – and so last night my mom and i made a list of all the signs that Ozzie knows… and here they are (and he can do them in his own Ozzie way, as well as understand them):

  1. Dada
  2. Mama
  3. Ceddy
  4. Grandma
  5. chair
  6. table
  7. head/hat
  8. nose
  9. eyes
  10. drops
  11. octopus
  12. ball
  13. book
  14. block
  15. all done
  16. more
  17. eat/food
  18. milk
  19. suckie (pacifier)
  20. tired
  21. up
  22. fly
  23. baby/dolly
  24. round and round the garden
  25. OH NO!
  26. fish
  27. bath
  28. clean
  29. change
  30. diaper
  31. boots
  32. piggies
  33. gentle
  34. glasses
  35. blow kiss
  36. hug
  37. music/singing
  38. dancing
  39. puffer
  40. ewwww
  41. bye bye
  42. chop chop chop
  43. burp
  44. cough
  45. pat
  46. clap
  47. birdie
  48. cow
  49. monkey
  50. elephant

It’s pretty amazing to know what he wants and be able to give him what he wants and needs.  And to see how his language is developing.  For example, he used to only sign ‘change’ or ‘diaper’ if we were in the middle of a diaper change, and we had signed it first.  Now, he was tell us “CHANGE DIAPER” when he’s messy.  So, he knows what it means, and that if he signs this to us, then we will change him!! AND he’s signing two word sentences, sometimes!  It’s all so exciting!

I’m really hoping that our SLP is impressed, but i also hope that she can help us devise a way to get him to speak – because the thing is, he DOES speak.  He says full phrases, complete with intonation and urgency… he just keeps his mouth closed, so it’s a series of grunts and sounds.  If only he’d open that mouth, he’d be talking, i’m sure of it.  For example, the other day we were playing “CHOP CHOP CHOP TIMBER!!” on the bed (where you pretend to chop him and then he falls down on the bed, so cute) and he was doing the sounds… Uhh Uhh Uhh EEEEHHHUHHHHH…. and one time he opened his mouth and it ALMOST sounded like Timber… Brad and i were speechless….

but how do you tell a 19 month old to open his mouth?
I sure hope she has some ideas, or a long term plan for us to work towards.  I’m really excited for this appointment!! I love showing him off – to friends and family – all the signs he knows.  When he’s so far behind with some of his motor skills, it’s nice to see him doing so well in other places.