My One Regret

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8 Responses

  1. Christie says:

    I heart this times a million.

  2. David Wetherow says:

    I simply LOVE this!

  3. David Wetherow says:

    Heather, 25 years ago we started a lending library of augmentative and alternative communication equipment, training, support and experimentation. I kind of modeled it after the Mac tools truck – getting the equipment, the show and a technical support on the road and accessible to families, especially when the question about ‘readiness’ was putting the blocks to kids being able to try stuff out.

    One of the things that can get many of us stuck is this idea that we have to find ‘the’ perfect final solution before committing a piece of equipment. It simply doesn’t work that way, and it leaves us stuck in assessment world for far too long. The advantage of the library was that kids (and their professional allies) could try out a whole bunch of different approaches, find one that worked for a while, and celebrate and adapt when a kid would outrun the capacity of a system to keep up with their learning and expression. We deliberately set it up so that as soon as a kid needed something else, they could turn in the old system and grab a new one off the shelf. We did this in collaboration with speech language pathologists but did it in a way that freed the SLPs up to experiment. I loved the project, and loved the times when a kid would blow the wheels off a system because it couldn’t keep up with what he was learning and wanting to say.

    Wonderful post! So many thanks.

  4. Kathy says:

    Heather, what is your advice in how to get started with a toddler? I’m getting some push back from early intervention specialists because my son doesn’t have a pointer finger yet and he’s not coordinated. He is able to make choices and his vision is okay. Therapists keep talking about building foundational skills but I think in his case we are going to have to model and build them for him. I’d rather introduce an ipad sooner than later.

    • Heather says:

      Kathy – Welcome. First just let me say this is wonderful that you’re thinking about this so soon. And if your child is expected to have delayed verbal skills, then it’s really not too soon. Toddler communicate and yours should have that opportunity too.

      Though I can’t speak to your son’s fine motor skills, I will say that some kids use their thumbs on a talker or some use their pointer finger without really isolating it. If YOU believe he’s ready (and you have the financial and emotional resources to take a risk) I say go for it. We use Speak for Yourself and there are many reasons I love it, mostly because it’s based on motor planning. We got stuck in the “building foundational skills” trap and that is my biggest regret. Think of this task as a neurotypical child learning language – they need to hear it over and over again and then they will makes all sorts of efforts (not mistakes) to babble and then put nonsense words together etc before speaking. It sometimes feels like our kids are asked to master a skill or prove themselves before they get exposed to the next level of language. So think of a talker as a foreign language. You want to speak that specific language (called modeling where you actually use the words) over and over again. The problem with doing this in steps is that generally therapists will use different tactics (two pictures, then maybe a button then perhaps a device with four programmed words) but each time is basically like going from French to German to Spanish – you’re starting over. This is why I believe it’s important to start with the end goal in mind, a system that will grow with your child.

      Ok- so before I overwhelm you let me close with three things. I’m obviously not a SLP and I don’t know you’re child. I’m just a parent who felt like she wasted time. Second, go to the Uncommon Sense blog. Not only does she have TONS of info, but Dana also has great videos where you can see her daughter’s communication skills progress. I think she has a YouTube channel. Third, there is grace in all of this. There has to be. I give it to myself all the time. If this is scary or overwhelming, come back to the decision when you feel more ready.

      Please email me and let me know what you decide. I would LOVE to stay in touch and hear how your son is doing. (also totally random, Aidan’s genetic mutation is also on his 5th chromosome)

      Best of luck to you Kathy!

  5. David Wetherow says:

    Watch this beautiful TED Talks presentation on speech / language development. Notice how many approaches there were to finally forming the word ‘water’.

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