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Aug '09

Speech therapy review and…first word?

Yesterday Wesley’s speech therapist came and did an annual review. She goes down a list of questions that she asks me (“Can Wesley do…?”) and if he passes then she goes to the next question. She stops going down the list when he fails five questions in a row. She also does a few tests with Wesley (like set out three objects and ask him to identify and pick one of them specifically) to see how he responds. Then he’s given a percentile ranking.

First off, she was impressed by Wesley’s attention span yesterday. Sometimes he’s all over the place, but he sat and worked with her really well for the first half hour.

She graded him on the scale for 18-23 month olds (he’s 23 months). He scored in the 18th percentile. I thought that sounded really low, but she said it’s actually really good. Kids have to score in the 7th percentile or lower to qualify for the services Wesley receives. On the other hand, when she scored him using the scale for 24-29 month olds he ranked only in the 3-4th percentile. But that’s OK, because he has six months to improve and we’re sure he will. She said he’s functioning, speech wise, at about the level of a 17-month-old. Which I didn’t think was too bad.

Part of the reason he did well is that he hit two major milestones this week. Speech is typically harder for kids with Down syndrome to get, and for Wesley it’s been hard in part because he’s always struggled with imitation. Imitation is one of those essential developmental skills that he needs to have for speech.

He started imitating some motor skills, like clapping, in the last month or so, but if you say, “Hey Wes, say, ‘mamamamama,'” he’ll just stare at you. Or, more likely, grunt at you to get you to stop trying to make him do something he doesn’t want to do.

First milestone: This past week we discovered that if we coughed, Wesley would cough too. This was amazing to us! So now we’re often playing the Coughing Game. See below.

Now, Wesley still doesn’t initiate the game himself. That’s one thing the therapist talked about (with much concern, actually)–Wes has got to start initiating more. Not just with sound games, but with everything. She freaked out a little when she asked if Wes will point to objects he wants and I told her no. If you offer Wes something, he’ll let you know if he wants it or not. If he finds a container of pretzels he’ll bring it to you to give him one. If he’s tired he’ll come up near you and wait for you to pick him up. And if you hold something up for him to come across the room to get, he’ll hold out his hand as he walks towards you to get it. But I’ve never seen him point at something to indicate he wants it. I’ve never heard him make noise to indicate he wants something without me offering him something first. And he doesn’t lift up his hands for us to pick him up unless we hold out our hands first.

I would never think of these things unless someone pointed them out to me. It was kind of exhausting, listening to the speech therapist go over all this with me and give me assignments.

I hope that pointing to objects will be around the corner. I know it took Wes a long time to figure out how to use his pointer finger at all. It’s just been in the last couple of weeks that he’s gotten good at using his index finger to point. I think it’s because we have a star stacker toy that has a button on the top (a very small button) that he learned how to push with his index finger. He will sit for ten minutes pushing that button and making the music play over and over again. And it seems that the therapist was kind of freaked out when Wes was younger (closer to one) that he didn’t use his pointer finger at all. He’s getting it now, though, so maybe pointing to objects isn’t too far off.

Something else the therapist wants us to help Wes do is to pretend feed stuffed animals. She brought a stuffed bear, a plastic cup, and a plastic spoon. She told Wes the bear was hungry and showed him how to put the spoon to the bear’s mouth. Wes didn’t get the idea of feeding the bear right off. But–and this surprised us–after a few minutes he started dipping the plastic spoon into the empty cup and putting the spoon to his own mouth, like he was pretending to feed himself. I don’t think I’d ever seen Wes do anything pretend before. And a little while after that he would put the spoon to the bear’s mouth (or, his face, anyway). I only just started helping Wes use a spoon to feed himself this past week. I put a little yogurt or baby food in a bowl, help him grip the adult-sized spoon, and keep my hand over his to help guide his hand to the bowl and up to his mouth. He gets the basic idea of using the spoon, and his coordination will get better over time so I won’t need to guide him so much.

Second milestone: The other great thing Wes is doing that involves imitating sound is shown here (sorry it’s dark):

Is it his first word? I’m not 100% sure, but the speech therapist thought so. Because he can say one word he scored better on the speech review. Also, while the therapist was here Wes dropped his plastic cup on the kitchen floor and said, “Oh oh.” He makes the sound “oh” frequently, so it may have been coincidental, but the therapist thought maybe it was intentional. It’s hard to know. By the time Wes is 2 1/2 they want him to be able to say five words.


2 Responses to “Speech therapy review and…first word?”

  1. tara72 Says:

    that sounds like “cat” to me! way to go Wes! it seems to me that Savannah didn’t start pretending until just this summer. I remember being impressed that she would pretend to feed her toy horse. she seems to use her toy kitchen for a lot of pretending. so it’s great that he caught on so quick, I’m sure it will be fun to start pretending more.

    it’s pretty amazing to hear all these things he “should” be working on. like you said, it’s stuff I never think of. I just think of how well he is doing!!

  2. Hannah Says:

    you are such a good mom. it must feel overwhelming to get so many assignments from the therapist because it seems like kids will only come along at their own rate.
    wesley plays lots of games, like the empty the garbage into the toilet game, the climb in the basket game, or taking food out of the pantry game. surely that counts for something.
    Good luck with pointing, talking, and all the other milestones.

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