Last week we had a parents’ night at school, and discussed communication. The topic was so popular that they were a little overwhelmed in the childcare area, so I ended up leaving about halfway through and helping out. (I carried around the 2 youngest kids and sang to them. My arms still hurt 3 days later.)
We talked about picture boards, and choice boards, and expecting MORE from our kids in terms of communication… but maybe sometimes LESS in terms of spoken words. One of the things the teachers kept stressing was that parents need to remember to stop themselves from overwhelming the kids… with words. They really pushed using pictures to illustrate what the kid needed to say, instead of constantly repeating ourselves. For example, we should say “would you like some apple?” – and then if there is no response, pick up the picture card, and point to the applesauce – and be quiet. Just point.
This one is a hard one for Tim and me. I have to keep reminding myself to shut up, and give the J-man time to process and respond. And keep reminding myself. And keep reminding myself.
The teachers also suggested making the J-man interact with us more – by only giving him a little of what he wants, or only part of what he needs. For example, I know that every morning, the J-man comes downstairs and has applesauce, nuggets, and tea for breakfast. For the longest time, we just went ahead and had everything ready to save time. Now though, he has to ask for each of those things. We also have started giving him half a container of Veggie Straws, when he normally gets an entire container of them for a snack. If he wants more, he has to ask for them! (While I was typing, he asked for crackers… I gave him 3, when I’ve seen the boy eat an entire sleeve! So I’m waiting to get interrupted again.) They suggested when he asks to color, to give him the paper, but then wait for him to ask for the crayons, or even make him ask for specific colors.
One last thing we talked about recently was trying to move the J-man toward forming some letters correctly with his mouth – instead of B and P, he makes this “glottal stop” sound with his lips open. We are waiting (and waiting and waiting) for him to close his lips while making that sound, and only THEN does he get to watch Pinky Dinky Doo, or “do pillows” where we squash him on the floor with pillows for deep pressure. The past couple of times, I’ve just needed to tap my lips and say “lips” and he closes his. The sound is still the same at this point, but the lip position is at least beginning to change.
It’s so slow sometimes that I want to scream. And then, like the “P” lips closed position thing, it’s quick.
One more thing that has nothing to do with communication, but is just too awesome to not mention: I steamed some carrots for Dale Jr, but then couldn’t get him to eat them in pieces, so I ended up pureeing them. I added them to applesauce, and he ate them just fine. Hmmm… how would the J-man react? I am proud to say that he now eats applesauce with pureed carrots (OR pureed butternut squash) AND a dollop of plain yogurt mixed in. I think he may even like it better than the plain applesauce. That makes… NINE FOODS!