Thanks to our state's funding the Department of Early Learning, we are able to take advantage of the speech therapy service free of charge. Diddles has a developmental delay, and therefore qualifies under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Back in December, I met with our "team", which consists of Betsy (speech therapist), Kelly (family resources coordinator), Megan (birth to three coordinator with our school district) and Chelsea (special ed service provider). Together we took the collected data on Diddles and formulated an IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan - think IEP) to best serve her. She'll remain with this team and service until we opt out or until she no longer needs the service. They know her by name, and are all helpful and friendly. They bend over backwards to help me with my questions and/or concerns. Isn't that something?! It's really quite humbling, and I'm so grateful for them.
A typical speech session starts at 10 am, and is completely play-based. I play an active role in the session, both talking with Diddles as well as Betsy. Yaks also comes along (PM Kindergarten) and tries to do a project or play a game on my phone and not "be bored". He usually can't resist interjecting comments like, "Yeah, Diddles doesn't EVER say please. She just yells and then grabs whatever she wants." or "Guess what, Betsy! This week Diddles said, "Spoon, please!"
Today Diddles trotted into class and headed right for her favorite toy, the rocking horse, which is high on a shelf. We're trying to get her to label things with words instead of pointing and also learn basic requests (help please, more please, my turn, all done, I want _____, etc). Diddles had to say "Horse please" to get it down, and then say, "Help please" for us to haul it over to the mat to play. We always take off our shoes to play on the mat, but today when I said first take off your shoes, and then you can play on the horse, it resulted in a tantrum. Screaming, bonking her head, flailing body, throwing things, etc. She wanted to have her shoes on to ride the horse, but she doesn't have the language to explain that, hence the frustrated tantrum. Well, that and she's two. Well, that and she's the baby and as Yaks says, "grabs whatever she wants". Another memorable one was when she wanted two bins of toys down at once, and Betsy instructed her to put one away in order to get the next. MELT. DOWN. I think it lasted 20 minutes. It's hard to know what behaviors = language delay frustrations and which = spoiled baby. One you can understand, the other is just embarrassing. Fortunately, Betsy is so kind and never judgmental. She's backs off when she needs to and asks questions to help understand and change course. I love her.
Today we talked about kites. There were several on the wall, one with a plane on it, one with ladybugs. Diddles walked over to the plane and said, "Pane! Pop! Go. See!" Translation: "My papa has a remote controlled airplane. I want to go see it. It's awesome." Then she walked over to the one with Ladybugs and said, "Bugs! Touch. No-no. Cry." Translation: "I'm so fascinated by bugs, but they scare me to death. I really want to touch them, but woah, Nellie I'm terrified." We made construction paper kites and Betsy brought out markers and those dot paints and stickers, and Diddles has to make requests for "help, please" "more please" "cut, glue please", etc. Then we played Memory and she labeled and matched the cards to their pair. We played with farm animals and took them on rides and gave them food when they were "hungee" and put them to "seep" when they were tired.
Finally it was time to go, she cried when we had to put her shoes on. (sigh)
But then during the week, we slowly and steadily hear things like,
"Mom? Gog? Daddy? Go walk? Pet tail?" And I look out the window and our male neighbor is outside walking his dog. Yes, I see.
"Book? Sip, read, pwease?" Yes, I would love to sit and read a story with you.
"Hungee. Ounce. Munch. Pwease?" Oh, sorry. You can't have ice cream for lunch, but we can have a sandwich!
Oh, and a breakthrough a few weeks ago when we were eating dinner, which included some pasta and corn. I had given everyone forks, and Diddles was arching her back and yelling about something. I went over to try to figure out what she needed and she showed me her fork, paused a moment thinking, and then said loudly and clearly...
She wanted a spoon to eat her corn. It was a "By George, I think she's got it" moment. Even the kids were celebrating!
Now friends, I know that this sounds like complete baby talk. I know you probably have 12 or 18-month-olds who can talk circles around my child. But, this is so fantastic to me. She's speaking, and not just speaking, but communicating what she needs, and what she sees around her.
And that, my friends, is progress.