Monday, May 6, 2013

baby babble - BONANZA!

What do you do when you have a teenage non-verbal child, who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, who begins to babble and jabber (the beginning sounds and word approximations that are typically made by a baby/toddler) ?

Well, after you get over the amazement of hearing this new development taking place before your eyes and ears (many years after the typical speech timeline) roll with it (despite their age) and you encourage them to keep making sounds, you help them to put sounds together, and you might also want to consider seeking the help of a trained speech language pathologist, who can support your endeavor to teach your teen or older child to learn to produce sounds and verbally speak for the first time.

When my son, Matthew, was a baby and toddler, he didn't really babble or baby talk, and he didn't make very many sounds. He received speech therapy but when it became apparent that he needed an alternate way to communicate, we began working on using sign language and augmentative communication, (which we still continue to use and encourage).

However, I still always worked with and encouraged my son to 'talk' verbally by becoming his mirror (sitting directly in front of him making different sounds very slowly using my mouth and allowing him to watch me--hoping he would attempt to mimic me).

He rarely made a sound and would simply, but very intently, watch my mouth. He also loved to watch his own mouth in a mirror and he would make faces while engaging in mirror mouth play, which amused him greatly.

At age 7 he said his first word, "buh-bye", after he and I had worked on it together for almost the entire school year.

He also took his first steps at age 7, which I was told, by his developmental team at the Children's Hospital, defied the textbook odds!

Getting back to the babbling, which is something that my son has been doing for awhile now.

I have been looking for ways to work with him to develop/enhance his verbal speech and help him hone those delightful sounds, he is making, into words, which he is actually already beginning to do a little bit.

For example, he has learned to SAY: "puppy", "bubble", "papa", and he is trying hard to say other words such as: BALL, BOWL, BABY.

He is also (with my encouragement) making the first sound of a word (using his mouth)--even though he isn't able to speak the entire word. If he knows the "sign" for the word, he will sign the word (using sign language)...and then I will smile and say "yes" but will still encourage him to also SAY the first letter sound of that word, with his mouth.

For example: we will work on the word MILK and he will sign the word for "milk" when I say it, but I will help him to try to SAY the "M" sound "mmmmmmm" and he will repeat it, "mmmmmmm".

For some words, he will try to verbally speak the entire word, which may sometimes sound very close to the word (the actual sounds--and even the correct number of syllables) or may not--but he is trying and I am encouraging, and celebrating, each and every effort on his part.

I am impressed, thrilled, elated, jumping for joy and although I don't know if he will some day advance to verbal speech, I won't let that stop me from trying, trying, trying, enthusiastically encouraging him, and hoping.

I tell my son that I love that he is talking to me. I also tell him numerous times, as often as possible, with a big smile on my face, and and an outpouring of encouragement from my heart...

"You are talking", "I love it when you talk to me", "Tell me more"...

And he replies back with beautiful babbling stories and important things he wants to tell me.

It's not just me and his dad noticing this big bonanza of sounds, and long-winded babbling, taking place. He is also babbling out in public, at his hairdresser's, at the grocery store and anywhere else he feels the urge to express himself.

Sometimes he babbles a variety of sounds in a very long string of quick jabber that (as his mother) I know perfectly well HE knows what he's saying--even if the rest of us aren't quite sure.

Some of his babbling is definitely playing with sounds and exploring, but sometimes he will get in front of my face, seeking my attention, and he will try very hard to verbally tell me something. His speech pattern will slow way down and you can see him thinking as he very slowly produces what's on his mind, using a variety of sounds and careful movements of his mouth. I wish I knew what he was saying (and sometimes I do--simply because I know him and I know what he wants or what he is asking to do--like play games, music and videos on the computer, etc).

Several days ago I stumbled upon a blog that has been a Godsend! Thanks to Tori, Jake's Mama and author of Jake's Journey to be a Little Man, I discovered the exact tools that I have been desiring/looking for, that perfectly match my son's learning style, when it comes to watching mouths in the mirror and viewing videos of mouths making sounds, to help promote verbal speech.

After carefully considering and exploring the different products, I chose to purchase the following VAST speech "apps" in itunes, created by SpeakinMotion, for my son to use on his iPad2:

VAST (Video Assisted Speech Technology) is created for use on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

click to view a video sample of VAST Autism 1-Core below:

VAST Autism 1 - Core (also available in Spanish)


VAST Pre-Speech Oral Motor

They were an instant hit with Matthew and with Matthew's Mama, too!

He grabbed the iPad and began staring at each close-up video of a mouth moving making a sound or a word, and intently watched, then tried saying the sound or moving his mouth, then looked up at me for a dose of Mama make the sound for me, and went right back to his video mouth-watching on his iPad!

At 19 years of age, my son is bursting forth with babble, making a variety of bilabial sounds (consonant sounds using both lips: "m" "p", "b") and is also making some alveolar sounds (consonant sounds made by the tip of the tongue against the superior alveolar ridge [on the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth]: "n", "t", "d", "s", "z"). And, I will continue to help his babbling blossom into the beautiful potential inside of him.

The moral of this story is:

Don't ever give up hope, or think it's too late for your child to learn something new developmentally or educationally, despite their age.

The VAST apps are discounted 20% now through May 15, 2013 (just a few more days) in honor of their "Autism and Stroke Awareness Matters campaign."

Websites below:
(that I found helpful in my exploration)

Proactive Speech-ipad technology for non-verbal individuals with autism

Consonantly Speaking-SpeakinMotion Application Reviews
This is an Speech-Language Pathologist's detailed reviews about some of the VAST "apps". Please note that her review is from March, 2013 and the giveaway is now closed. However, her review is quite helpful and informative.

Jake's Journey to be a Little Man-Vast Autism 1 Core
Thank you Jake's Mama, Tori, for your wonderfully helpful and very informative website, which led me to learn about the VAST speech apps! ♥

I welcome and encourage all of your comments.

And, if you use a specific speech "app" (or other speech therapy tool) with your child/loved one and find it helpful, please mention it specifically by name, and feel free to give as many details as you are comfortable sharing, in your comment.

I did not receive any monetary compensation from the company who sells the products mentioned here. I purchased the VAST "apps" (at my own out-of-pocket expense) as a tool to help encourage verbal sounds/speech in my child who has agenesis of the corpus callosum.

1 comment:

  1. I have purchased it, I will try with my almost 3 year old boy who is babling and making more sounds the last weeks and is also starting an alternative communication formula with pictograms.


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