Since we’re still in a post-holiday funk around here and about as lively as the furniture, I’m doing a little content recycling today from a recent comment I made to at least get back to posting. I think all the endless eating and football-watching has killed off a bunch of my brain cells!
Over the last few days, we’ve learned some interesting insights into how to get the J-Man to use some more speech. He is more and more able to give us some idea of how much he understands us and is trying to communicate back to us using a combination of word and syllable approximations as part of what I’m calling ‘syllable-by-syllable communication’.
‘Syllable-by-syllable communication’ (my made-up term) has turned into a real winner around here once we pushed him toward it. With this, he communicates one syllable of a word using his best approximation, then we repeat it back to him indicating that we heard and understood him, then he continues with his best approximation of the next syllable, and so on. Following this approach, we’ve gotten through entire sentences, stories, etc. But most of all, we’ve been able to differentiate many words for the first time.
For example, any word that started with ‘m’ used to be ‘muh-muh’ or ‘mo-mo’ or something like that, and he wouldn’t go any further, or we didn’t push him enough to fill in more of the syllables. Now, for example, ‘monkey’ goes like this:
[Note – he tends to get a smidge echolalic with syllables.]
J – “Muh-muh”
Me – “Mon”
J – “kee-kuh”
Me – “key!”
And ‘many’ might go like (with J-Man and I alternating): “Meh-muh”; “Meh”; “Nee-nee”; “Nee!”
There are still many sounds he cannot make and others that he struggles to make clear or differentiate from others, but we are really getting somewhere going one syllable at a time, which is awesome. By pushing him and taking the extra time to wait on him to try each syllable, we’re more and more able to get a fuller sense of what he understands and is trying to tell us.
One neat thing we’ve discovered through this is that we’ve been able to see that he can read many multi-syllable words (going syllable-by-syllable, using his syllable approximations as needed) quite well, and his ability seems to increase by the day. He rapidly goes through many of the sight word cards we give him. The other day he was trying to read stuff off the TV screen and regularly tries to identify labels on things around the house (with his favorite being the microwave – “KitchenAid”).
One thing that makes this harder for him is that he can’t close off syllables very well. So ‘mouse’ might end up as ‘muh-muh’ or ‘car’ might be ‘cah’ or ‘cah-cah’. However, by drawing those words out into two ‘syllables’, I’ve had some luck coaching him into closing the word. So, we’re starting to get for ‘mouse’:
On occasion, he’ll now close a few of the words on his own, which is great to see. This is a big step forward for him.
So, yes breaking every word down into its smallest parts – even making things into syllables that really aren’t – takes some effort and thinking, but this seems to be the way we’re going to have to build up his speech – bit by bit by bit. Some additional effort for more speech is a darn good trade in my opinion!