Testers Newsletter

Dear Testers,

Thank you so much for your time and feedback! I’m hearing that you liked the product, but you need more explanation up front and more ‘confetti’ to celebrate it when you achieve your goals. I’m sitting here with three cups of coffee (not even kidding!) and I’m taking a deep dive into the flow of the app to look into how I can sharpen up the experience. It would really help if you could do the survey below, to help me focus my development effort.

All direct feedback is welcome as always – please do reach out @saltformysquid , on https://www.facebook.com/groups/SaltForMySquid/ or using the feedback form below.

You guys are all awesome – and makes all the difference in the world to have real people helping me build this right.

Kate

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Talking in borrowed words

Don’t don’t don’t. Don’t have music playing in the background when you have a speech delayed child is just one more don’t I had to learn. It makes it extra difficult for them to focus on the speech around them; harder to differentiate the separate sounds against the background noise; the wall of noise inhibiting them from attempting to talk. Don’t.

But what is music? Before X-factor, before Sony, before disco it was (it is) a way of communicating. Stories and emotions. Bob Dylan is a Nobel laureate; music communicates language and poetry too.

I did comply. I tried to not let her lose a moment of language learning opportunities. But her language was delayed already and I couldn’t suppress the strain in my voice as the hours rolled through with me providing both sides of the conversation. A little bit like our relationship with technology, I rethought the issue. Listened to the risks but also watched her interactions to identify the benefits.

Echolalia – echo speech – is a natural stage of language acquisition. Some children pass through it quickly, others echo much more. Junior echoed. It was subtle – she didn’t echo immediately, but rather replayed them in some future instance, like a human voice recorder. A vaguely context appropriate utterance above her normal language level, replayed verbatim including any regional accent present.

So in the end I’ve found music is a friend for my little Echo nymph. Not too much. Not all the time. Not indiscriminately. I built a playlist on Spotify. To make the cut, the songs had to appeal to a child, but also lift my spirits. Clear articulation of words without speaking down to the listener. A good beat. No nursery rhymes.

The music brought in a second voice. And then a third voice joined in. A little third voice yowling in the chorus without knowing the lyrics. A week later, in the shop, I got a little tug on my sleeve. It wasn’t to tell me “I want water”. It wasn’t to say “Go home”. I got two serious grey-green eyes focused straight on me to say “You stole my heart”.

Little girl, you stole my heart and made it your own.

Do.

How to keep listening (even when they go on and on)

Super-listening is one the many superpowers I’ve been expected to develop as a parent of autistic kids.

This blog is about my baby who didn’t talk. I have other babies that did. And, oh my goodness, they talk. Easily thirty minutes without pausing on whatever is their ‘thing’ at the current time. Briefly throwing out a question like ” who is your favourite Pokemon” to check you’re listening, and then monologue again. Here are my top tips for how I surf it:

  • Whenever they get a new craze, invest twenty minutes to read a wiki on it this means that you can bring in a little bit of reciprocal conversation on the topic they’re interested in, to model good conversation skills. Also means that you can quickly come up with plausible answers to pop quiz questions, even if you tuned out.
  • Make listening face and noise It doesn’t actually matter if your attention wanders. I find that they don’t expect much of you beyond a chance to unspool their mental narrative
  • Mirror their reactions. Laugh when they do even if you lost track of the joke. Look concerned when they look concerned. It’s about nurturing joint attention and emotional connection – rather than the facts.
  • Give them thirty minutes to talk about their thing, and then insert the question you really want the answer to. For example “why were you upset after school yesterday”. The pay off for an hour of listening to Pokemon is that once they’re talking about one thing, they’ll be on a talking roll sometimes.
  • Take them with you when you have driving errands primetalkingtime without eating into your free time.
  • Enjoy the fact that they want to bring you into their world. It’s a compliment. And it’s setting up the idea that you care about their ‘stuff’.

Speaking parts for non-speaking kids

Sheep 3: “There it is”

That’s just made our Christmas! So chuffed the teachers trusted her to have a speaking part.

(Actually – it was

Sheep 2: “Where is the star”

*pause* *pause* *finger-twist* *pause* *pause*

Sheep 3: “There it is”

Next year’s nativity, I think the lesson learnt is to practice listening to the play and understanding it – not just saying her lines.)

Fussy eater food foto #1


This is what chicken noodle soup looks like here!

The recipe is basically all of the above in a chicken broth. Which I would eat alone.

New plan: they fill their bowls with their choice of trimmings, and then I pour over hot chicken stock (vegetable stock for the veggies).

The carrots are parboiled with a blast in the microwave and I fried the mushrooms. I might sneak a prawn or two from the freezer for my portion!

Language disorders at primary age

Squid has done marvellously well. ‘Just outside the range of normal’ for understanding, grammar and language. Her NHS speech therapist wants to move her onto only speech sound targets for the next block.

Apart from ‘just outside the range of normal’ means that on every test they administer she scores between 5% and 10% less than lower bound of the very wide range of normal for a child her age. And she still struggles. So I think it would be wrong to consider this the end of language intereventions. But possibly it might be the right point to view her as receiving support ‘in context’ – i.e. parents and school.

 

I copied the below from http://www.asha.org. Does anyone have any other thoughts to add for a good flight-plan to support a language disordered primary school aged child?

Intervention For Elementary School Children (Ages 5–10)

The focus of language intervention for elementary school children with language difficulties is to help the child acquire the language skills needed to learn and succeed in a classroom environment. Interventions are curriculum-based, that is, goals address language needs within the context of the curriculum where these skills are needed. 

Interventions may also address literacy skills (e.g., improving decoding, reading comprehension, and narrative and expository writing), as well as metacognitive and metalinguistic skills (e.g., increasing awareness of rules and principles for use of various language forms, improving the ability to self-monitor and self-regulate) that are critical for the development of higher-level language skills.  See the treatment section of the Written Language Disorders Practice Portal page.

For children who speak a language other than English in the home, it may be necessary to use the home language as a mechanism for transitioning the child to using the language of the school. Planning and implementing an effective language intervention program is often a coordinated effort involving the SLP, classroom teacher(s), and other school specialists. 

Areas targeted for this population typically include 

phonology 

  • enhancing phonological awareness skills, 
  • eliminating any residual phonological processes. 

semantics 

  • improving knowledge of vocabulary, including knowledge of curriculum-related vocabulary, 
  • improving depth of vocabulary understanding and use, including
    • subtle differences in meaning, 
    • changes in meaning with context, 
    • abstract vocabulary, 
    • figures of speech; 
  • understanding figurative language and recognizing ambiguities in language (e.g., words with multiple meanings and ambiguous sentence structures); 
  • monitoring comprehension, requesting clarification; 
  • paraphrasing information. 

morphology and syntax 

  • increasing the use of more advanced morphology (e.g., monster/monstrous, medicine/medical, school/scholastic); 
  • increasing the ability to analyze morphologically complex words (e.g., prefixes, suffixes); 
  • improving morphosyntactic skills (e.g., use of morphemes in simple and complex clauses, declarative versus questions, tag questions and relative clauses); 
  • improving the ability to understand and formulate more complex sentence structures (e.g., compound sentences; complex sentences containing dependent clauses); 
  • judging the correctness of grammar and morphological word forms and being able to correct errors. 

pragmatics 

  • using language in various contexts to convey politeness, persuasiveness, clarification; 
  • increasing discourse-level knowledge and skills, including
    • academic discourse, 
    • social interaction discourse, 
    • narrative discourse, 
    • expository discourse, 
    • use of cohesive devices in discourse; 
  • improving the ability to make relevant contributions to classroom discussions; 
  • improving the ability to repair conversational breakdowns; 
  • learning what to say and what not to say; 
  • learning when to talk and when not to talk.”

Baby Sid #1 

Baby Sid came to play today. Squid as Baby Sid wears a babygrow and does the craziest things. He climbs on the table. He pours sand in his hair. He sucks pennies. He likes to be settled down in a cot with a bottle of warm milk. Most of all – Squid as Baby Sid doesn’t talk. Baby Sid comes to play most days after school. 

Fido the doggie also comes to play. Squid as Fido eats from the floor and walks on a leash. Squid as Fido also doesn’t talk. Sometimes we get a cat to visit. Squid as a cat likes to be stroked and drinks milk from a saucer. Squid as a cat also doesn’t talk. Cats don’t talk (of course).

They’re quite fun – but I don’t think you have to be a psychologist to observe how hard she must be working at her speech every day.