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
enhancing phonological awareness skills,
eliminating any residual phonological processes.
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,
figures of speech;
understanding figurative language and recognizing ambiguities in language (e.g., words with multiple meanings and ambiguous sentence structures);
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.
Squid doesn’t talk; her brother doesn’t listen. I suspect they are showing sides of the same traits – somehow those brain connections that register words seem to form more slowly and be more fragile than the average.
I found an interesting article by Nina Kraus In Nature Neuroscience Reviews studying the effect of music training on listening skills. There is a logical link that the authors describe: “At the acoustic level, music and speech use pitch, timing and timbre cues to convey information. At a cognitive level, music and speech processing require similar memory and attention skills.”. They substantiate it with convincing arguments about how longterm focussed music training changes the structure of the brain and its responsiveness to sounds.
A paragraph that I found to be particularly relevant for us was the claim that music training improved the ability to discriminate speech in a noisy environment. The argument is that musicians are trained to be tuned into discriminating accurately between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ parts of their soundscape. So the skill for the conductor to hear one dud note in an orchestra is closely related to the skill of picking out the words of your friends against the background regular drone of a party.
The context of the article seems to mainly be classical music training. The same principles should apply to any focused musical development including singing and guitar. The results were much better if music training began before the age of seven and sustained over a long time in a focussed way.
Squids do music lessons. One benefit I’ve seen for sure is the verbal-lite social activity of sharing music with others. I’m thinking of the big kids in the orchestra – but I’m also remembering little Squid in her first year at school. Stuck for words and struggling to engage; dancing, twirling and bubbling as soon as the music came on.
“If your family are slow to get going in the morning – why not turn things into a fun race?”
<bitter hollow laugh>
Squid’s brother was ( … is … ) epically, hysterically competitive. In a world where ‘last one out is a rotten egg’ leads to screaming tantrums – a fun kick around at the park just didn’t happen.
I never did manage to moderate his response. As soon as I got some traction on ‘winning and losing is part of the experience’ – I was facing violent vigilante behaviour at anyone not following the rules of the game.
Now I have marvellous older sons who have missed out on the civilising influence of sport and a little girl who has to win at everything. Any ideas for how to involve that kind of temperament in competitive sport?
An idiosyncrasy of Junior’s speech is that she doesn’t use gender identifying pronouns correctly. He/she her/his all come out interchangeably. It never really bothered me that much, because it was easy enough to understand what she meant. However, I’ve now decided to make a project of it. I’m hoping it will be relatively easy to fix, and make her speech sound more natural to people who don’t know her so well.
My allies in this are Topsy and Tim – the boy-girl twin starts of the CBeebies show with the same name. There is nothing in the show itself about pronouns, but we acquired the tie in magazine, and we’ve been playing with the toys and activities. A simple thing that’s worked really well is for me to say something about Tim (He has brown eyes) and then ask Junior to tell me the same thing about Topsy (She has brown eyes). And on and on on any theme or storyline you like, keeping the echo going to constantly compare and contrast the male and female pronouns.
What helps a lot is that Junior is starting to read. We cut out the biggest pictures of Topsy and Tim from the magazine and wrote ‘She’ and ‘Her’ on Topsy’s tummy and ‘He’ and ‘His’ on Tim’s tummy. This improved her accuracy a lot. And a nice side benefit that her teacher thinks we’ve been super diligent teaching her sight words. Take the praise where you can get it!
Cutting up the kids’ food. A little parenting habit that you internalise. Then one day you’re at a work lunch and you only just stop yourself leaning across and offering to slice up your colleague’s chicken.
Here’s another habit that I’ve absorbed – to build up my kids speech. Echo their sentences back adding a word. A therapist taught it to me when Junior was at two word sentence level and we wanted her to move on to three word sentences. I find it works for all stages.
I think it helps gently nudge the kids towards more complicated sentence structures. More than that – it always makes me feel happier in myself – because it is a speech booster that is achievable on even the most stressful days.
I’m setting myself a challenge: echo and add ten times for ten consecutive days. I’ll report back.
I don’t know why my baby didn’t speak. I do know that I didn’t keep her in a cupboard under the stairs – and so my working assumption is that it’s quite possible there are other factors ‘mixed’ in, which have led to her being slower to talk.
So, while she’s too small to screen for autism, and probably wouldn’t be ‘autistic enough’ to attract any real help in any case… but I think it doesn’t harm to keep that in mind as a possibility.
These cupcakes are part of that. I wanted to work on words for emotions, but also on recognising emotions. These cupcakes look quite glum – but most of them were happy! The faces are very easy – chocolate balls for eyes and mouths pressed with the edge of a cookie cutter. However – this activity has a high tantrum potential…. although they look a mess, the ones in the picture were largely made my an adult – and the activity ended up being the talking while eating the cakes. Good enough … yuh?