This girl!

This girl!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Complex communication needs

"The average 18 month old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours/day from birth. A child who has a communication system (AAC) and receives speech/language therapy 2 times/week for 20-30 min. will reach the same amount of language exposure (in their AAC language) in 84 years" Jane Korsten 

84 years..... Well, that's an eye opener, and yet it makes so much sense. A while ago I wrote a post called "I can speak Sophianese" you can read it here, in which I talk about how, at the time, I thought I could read Sophia's mind and I thought I knew exactly what she wanted or didn't. Maybe I do understand the basics, like whether something is bothering her, or whether she wants me to help her with a toy or a book. But that's it. I don't know what exactly is bothering her, I can try to guess and sometimes I'm lucky, but when I can't figure it out what's wrong, I can see the frustration in her eyes, and who could blame her.

So, last year she was granted an iPad and a communication app, I was so happy to finally have something to work with. The app is called LAMP and it would give Sophia two options and speech consultant wanted to start with "more" and "stop". Sophia would have to push the button; Sophia was not really interested in it. I have to confess there was a moment when I wondered if Sophia was ever going to be able to use any system at all. I was so wrong! The problem was that we were not giving her the chance to do it, to learn, to show us what she could do. First, we were limiting the learning a new way of communicating to just 2 sessions a week. Nobody can learn a new language like that, and second we were limiting the vocabulary to two choices; what if what she wanted to choose was not there? We were assuming that she was not understanding when in reality we were not giving her what she really needed. 
Fortunately, Sophia's former teacher was able to find an excellent program focused in communication where they use a communication system called PODD( Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display)  When I met who is now her teacher, she explained to me what the PODD is and said that she didn't have any doubt Sophia will succeed with it.  We just need to give her a fair chance, the same chance that we give a typical kid to learn a language. She needs to be exposed to this mean of communication everyday all day, without expecting an immediate response or without expecting her to have all her attention 100% of the time, just like we do with typical babies.  We are modeling a lot of words, not just two. We use the PODD to talk to Sophia about feelings and things we like or don't like that much, about favorite things and different places to go, just like we talk to babies since the moment they are born and we don't expect them to reply right away, we give them around 18 months of everyday modeling before we ask them to use the language they have been exposed to. Why would this be any different?  
We just got started and I already see the progress. In the beginning, the book was invading her space but now she tolerates it sitting right next to her and pays attention and smiles when she hears things that she likes. She has also answered to yes/no questions accurately and has made choices about her favorite things. It's a learning process, for all of us. It's a lot of work, for all of us, but it's worth it. Sophia is showing us that she has things to say, she just needs the chance to learn how to say them... just like everyone else.


A short clip of Sophia's teacher using the PODD

10 comments:

  1. Look at Sophia! She's absorbing information, even if she seems more interested in her toy than her teacher! Thanks for sharing this, Natalia!

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    1. You are so right! she is absorbing... all the time!

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  2. Look at Sophia! She's absorbing information, even if she seems more interested in her toy than her teacher! Thanks for sharing this, Natalia!

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  3. This is so wonderful! I am so happy that you found the right tool for Sophia to learn and finally be able to express herself. I can't wait to see her progress more and more!

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  4. I always knew Sophia was intelligent. Now, she can express it effectively.

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  5. Que bien, necesitaba solo una herramienta adecuada.. ahora lo miiiiismo de siempre... paciencia.

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  6. Super..... lo importante es que sophia cuenta con el apoyo de ustedes y sobre todo con todo tu amor y dedicación, todo se ira dando paso a paso y para ella y para ti sera más fácil comunicarse y aprender las dos de la mano se convertirá en una grande experiencia.

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