It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a child who doesn’t speak, also doesn’t hear, or understand, or that he doesn’t have a sophisticated imagination, or perhaps that he doesn’t even think about conversations around him.
Through the last few years with my son, I have sometimes experienced long delays between asking a question and getting a reply. Luckily, I had learnt that this delay – or in fact a lack of reply – does not mean the child doesn’t want to!
In the last few weeks, we have taken our little man’s therapy program into a new phase, focussing on speech. And wow, have I learnt all the more how true it is that we just don’t know what is going on in a child’s mind when speech isn’t fully developed!
Three weeks ago, Gryffin (3 1/2) could conduct a basic conversation involving a lot of his own ‘language’ with a collection of formed words which some people didn’t understand (because of quality) – but we all understood well at home. Today, after almost 2 weeks on this new ‘program’, each day we have new words, new sounds, new groups of words and sentences. He sings along with music I have played him for the last 18 months – making the right sounds at the end of phrases in songs (he has known these songs for over a year, only now can he sing along to them!)
The array of new sounds Gryffin has started to make is not all of a similar ‘group’ of sounds. Just in the last few days, he has said ‘lunch’, ‘cockatoo’, ‘tug boat’, ‘cook a yummy cake’ and today’s favourite, ‘nice boat, mate’!
But not only is there more variety in the speech, it’s faster! Less delay in responding… every bit as fast as the rest of the family. And he often laughs after he speaks, it is such a thrill for him to be able to verbalise his thoughts!
It’s breathtaking actually. One of our babysitters returned this week after 2 weeks off, and she could not believe the improvements.
So how have we unlocked this speech? Well, I ignored the frequent and often annoying suggestions to use sign language, and instead have persisted with the methods we learnt from The Institutes in Philadelphia, and this new phase of their program is exactly as was promised – very powerful for speech.
What we are witnessing is a dramatic improvement in messages getting through from the brain to the body, messages which were previously NOT getting through. I wrote about this in my book – here’s an extract.
The central nervous system is like the switchboard of our bodies – the brain and spinal cord together collect millions of stimuli per second, all of which are collected and relayed by nerve fibres. A neural pathway then is the actual route taken by the stimulus from the body part to the brain and how the brain sends commands to body parts.
Imagine, then, that our bodies are a 5 star hotel. Imagine that the General Manager of the hotel is located in an office on the ground floor and – being the GM, he would do best to manage the hotel from that office rather than to be running around the building all day. In order for the GM to perform efficiently, he uses communication systems like email, memo, intercom, phone, maybe even a pager, CCTV and a mobile phone.
There are any number of combinations of outages which might inconvenience the GM and stop him from sending and/or receiving communication with his concierges, housekeeping staff, kitchen staff, customers and his wife. Put this guy in his office, close the door and cut off the power and you can imagine how frustrated he would be – fully functioning inside his office, unable to talk to anyone, or even go to the bathroom.
This is what it’s like to have a stroke.
So if all of those methods of communication are different groups of nerves and neural pathways, you can imagine what it is like for a person with a neurological disorder. There is nothing wrong with their thought processes inside, it’s just that sending and receiving information is problematic and maybe even impossible.
Building strong neural pathways, then, is a vital part of what is needed to help children with conditions like Down syndrome, Autism, Developmental Delay and Cerebral Palsy. Therapies discussed in this book are useful in achieving that goal.”
– Naturally Better – click here for details.