After using Speak for Yourself (SFY) for a month, we started to see a pattern of success. Whenever a parent hears their child’s voice for the first time, be it their actual voice or their AAC voice, it is magical. The following is a text conversation I had with our SLP Even though this conversation is about my daughter, I think the information is universal as to the beginning of language development. You might experience this in one week, one month or one year, but we all share this same journey to find a voice!
March 7, 2013
Mom: What a great session. It is amazing how much Jess is trying to communicate.
SLP: She is doing a lot of things that typically developing children do when they learn language. She is using 2 words and pairing them with gestures, she’s making some pronoun errors, she’s saying some familiar things when she’s not sure what to say but wants to initiate communication. It is so exciting to see! I think you knew it already, but you have an extremely special daughter!
Mom: I’m still being warned* that I’m only hearing what I want to hear. But I don’t believe that with all the language she has on her page, it’s hard to believe this is all random. At the same time the director at her work program refers to Jess as a Helen Keller type. He sees that she he has so much going on inside her. It’s like she has been in the dark and now the sun is shining!!! *by school staff
When Jess was 18 months she said her first words. “This is good”. We were having pizza and this was what I would say to my husband every time we had pizza. My brother and I turned to each other and he said “I heard that!” When Jess was 10, she had a teacher she spoke for. She’d say a phrase or a word a week. Other than that everyone looked at her package and thought I was in denial. This is so validating for her and for us
SLP: Your texts make my day! She does have so much going on inside of her. I think she understands everything people say, so I hope they’re not saying that it’s random in front of her. If they are, I hope she tells them to stop! I felt like she was verbally approximating so much when I saw her on Monday. I would love it if she started acquiring verbal words as a “side effect” of using the device! There is neurological research that shows that the brain remains “plastic” throughout a person’s lifetime. She is already demonstrating this through her ability to use language so quickly and adapt to a new system.
Mom: We have never stopped praying and we have never stopped asking her questions. However I have spoken for her in that awkward silence. I have to work on that. I try to explain this to people about Jess, but they have to see it for themselves before believing that she is more than her package. We will just try and keep focused and let Jess lead the way. For me it helps to finally have someone guide her in this process
One of the most valuable tools for success is presumed competence! I LOVE this Mom’s post. She says it better than I ever could.
Oh, and one more thing. After Jess had been using SFY for less than six-weeks, she said “Mom, I Love you”. This was not a preprogrammed phrase, but she said each word separately. It was one of the most beautiful things a Mom could hear from their child.