Thursday, May 5, 2016

From Speechless to Speech

So many kids are totally speechless, some just have a bit of language.  Some use sign language exclusively and others utilize Augmentative Speech Devices (devices that speak for them), while to many have only grunts and sounds that they are able to make.  My daughter is more conversive then many but she is certainly not a chatterbox. She has some language and every single day her language skills continue to get better and better.  She speaks primarily (although she is often difficult to understands), she signs a little,  and yet there are still times when she is totally speechless.   The reasons vary.  It could be because she is tired, unwilling, unable, feeling shy, feeling angry, and most often, simply because she can not find the words, articulate them, make herself understood and feel confident in her delivery.  It is a lot for a young person to deal with. Parents of children without language are as equally frustrated as the children themselves.   It is a difficult situation for all concerned.

Parents, educators, therapists are always looking for ways to help children communicate.  I as a parent, have spent many years and money on speech therapists (not covered by insurance for many of us), speech camps, speech tools, devices, games, talking toys, videos, books, and apps.  Has it helped? Yes it all has helped. My point is that we need to keep working toward language everyday.   With children of all ages, babies through older kids,  communication is an evolving skill.  One day they can't say a word, the next they sign it, the third day they sign and say it, by the fourth day they may be signing and/or saying and even reading it.   Children will learn at their own pace.  It is not a race to language, it is a process.  The reward will be witnessing a previously non-communicative child actually communicate!

Whole language is the best way to teach and to learn.   Let's start with the word BOOK.  Write the word BOOK down on an index card in big bold letters. Show the child the index card.  Let them hold it. Then sign the word.  Hold your palms out as if you were holding a book in them. It is an easy sign. Then say the word BOOK out loud.  Then show the child an actual BOOK.  Hand the child the book. Sign it again, by saying, where is the book?  They will get it. Integrating it all together is the key.

GraceSigns is working to create apps that pull all the language together for children.   Our first app Sign Me A Story, taught signs in the stories.  Is the whole story signed, no, it would be overwhelming to try and learn the whole story, but by just pulling out 26 words to teach, it becomes more manageable.   It is also supposed to be fun, not a chore for kids to learn.  We are learning and growing as a company and like the children that we are aiming to help, everyday we are in improving in the process.

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