We just adopted a puppy. Like all dogs, Roxy has a spot you can scratch which prompts her to scratch in the air with her back foot. This reminded me that Jess has a spot which prompts her to talk, it’s while we are driving. Of course, I can’t model while I’m at the wheel, thankfully, I’m not needed.
Jess has been using Speak for Yourself (an AAC app for her iPad) for a couple of years. We are still building language. No doubt, she will be building language forever. Contrary to what doctors and schools told us over the years, the learning never stops. What did stop was the teaching. Due to Jess’s global delays and because she wasn’t able to give consistent responses, it was assumed she was what she was defined, significantly cognitively impaired. I think this is a huge problem. If a child isn’t looking at you or only wants to repeat something two maybe three times, conventional wisdom writes them off and stops trying to engage and passes them along. To make a long story short, we found the right team that was able to develop a path for her to learn and she has blossomed. Even so, I get anxious when I don’t think she’s “talking enough” and I don’t think I am alone. My biggest fear is that she will suddenly stop using her AAC and go back to gesturing. This is why I’m moving her out of her current day program because there is not enough support for her AAC and she doesn’t have any communication partners.
Every time I get my knickers in a twist, something happens where I realize I had no reason to worry. Take tonight for example. We went to the market. This started out uneventful because she didn’t use her talker. We gathered what we needed and headed home. On this part of the drive, the silence was broken. When Jess mentioned the movie Cinderella, I told her how I wanted to see it and that I wanted to see her dress. Jess lit up and eagerly tapped her responses. A few months ago, she had a similar conversation with her SLP who was taking her to the movie. Tonight I had the pleasure of having this same conversation with Jess.
Our chatting continued. She answered my questions while I pondered her answers. I’m learning to give her more space. Even though we have been at this awhile, I need to rein it in. I forget that Jess doesn’t talk as fast as I do. By the time we arrived home, her mood had changed and she was acting very satisfied with herself. After a day of being “talked to”, Jess was validated because she was able to talk about what was on her mind. My fears were put to rest for now, but I’m sure I will go through this cycle again.
Note to self, plan more car rides. Maybe even go to her favorite restaurant It’s Nutts. Everyone likes a place where they know you. She likes the waitresses. Not only are they easy to talk to, but they bring her ice cream when she orders it, with sprinkles!