Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three things I've learned this summer

Hi everyone! Today, I am linking up to my other blog, Mrs. Miracle's Music Room, to post about three things I've learned this summer.
I know...because I've already blogged about this at my other blog, I've written about three things I've learned, so this seems silly! But since this blog is about my daughter Macy's speech development, I'm going to blog about three things I've learned about her and her development this summer!

#1: I can create things to help my daughter's speech development!
I had an "A-ha" moment early this summer, when I realized, "Hey, I have all of this clip art and all of these borders for my TpT store...why don't I use it to help out my daughter?!?!" So I did. I created these cards, shown below, for Macy to learn her animals. At first, she just said a few of the animals, and then she started naming every single animal. Even cuter? She said the words "that's right!" in between all of the cards, as in, "Sheep! That's right...sheep!" Um, I think I must say those words A LOT!

You can download the cards for free by clicking on the picture below!

I have also created other cards...houses, windows, of family members, etc. It's been so fun to watch her learn new words!

#2: Child development is a complex thing...
So we've had Macy in speech therapy since October, and it has been wonderful. However, we were still seeing some signs that she wasn't exactly "typical." Sometimes, we'd call her name several times before she would look up, and she still often preferred to play by herself. Then, there were other slight oddities, like the fact that she likes to have a blanket on her A LOT, and that she tracks movement with her eyes and spins around while she does this. She's also a pretty picky eater. Our speech therapist suggested we might get her evaluated, and that she might have sensory issues. We got her evaluated this summer, and she did show some somewhat atypical symptoms in the visual and sensory areas. They didn't give her a diagnosis, but thought that she would benefit from OT. We started OT (Occupational Therapy) with her recently, and she LOVES it. First of all, it's like the best playground ever, and secondly, something about the extreme play actually motivates her to talk more. Yay! After her speech therapy, while we were sitting at the dinner table, she looked at each of us, and said, "Hi Mama!" "Hi Dada!" "Hi Jenna!"
She has never done that. I almost cried. 
Child development, as I'm learning, is complex and tiered and different areas overlap with each other...but it appears we are on the right track, so that is good!

#3: More time is awesome
I am SO thankful for being a teacher, for so many reasons, but this summer, I was so thankful to have the time to spend with Macy. Her speech development has grown a ton. She's looking at us in the eye so much more, and she is more socially aware. And I wouldn't trade the times Macy has gotten in my face to give me a kiss, or cuddle, or when she's exclaimed "I'm happy!" No, I wouldn't trade that for the world.

What have you learned this summer? Feel free to hop over to my other blog and link up, or comment below!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Teaching toddlers to name body parts

Hi everyone! Today I'm blogging about something Macy is finally starting to master: naming body parts. This is typically a skill that two-year-olds develop, but with her speech delay it's been a struggle...so I was very excited when she touched my nose the other day, smiled, and said, "Nose!" She is also naming other body parts, like head and eyes. I have three ways that have helped her finally begin naming her body parts, but these strategies could work for any child--even if you have a normally-developing child who is working on this skill:

#1: Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head

My now eleven-year-old had Mr. Potato Head, and of course had fun with it, but it wasn't until I was sitting in speech therapy a few months ago that I realized how awesome it is for naming body parts! Macy's speech therapist had her playing with Mr. Potato Head, and would take out the nose and exclaim "Nose!" or the eyes and say "Eyes!" It was an A-ha moment for me....of course this is a great toy for naming body parts! Why hadn't I thought of that before? The fact that you can take each body part out and put it back in--isolating each body part--makes it even better!

#2: Go Away, Big Green Monster!

I first saw this book at Macy's daycare; her teacher put on quite the performance reading the book, and Macy was transfixed, so I also fell in love with the book (click the picture above to see it on Amazon). Each page discusses a different body part (like squiggly green ears or a long bluish-greenish nose), and the pages fit on top of each other, creating a complete monster. When I read the book to her, after I say "nose," I touch the nose; after I say "hair," I touch her hair, etc. You could also do this touching your own nose, hair, etc., so she can see those body parts on you. My only complaint is that at this point it doesn't come as a board book...so the pages end up getting easily ripped. Still a great book!

#3: Head, shoulders, knees, and toes
I sang this song to Macy one day, touching each body part, and she immediately sang it back to me! (Okay, so the words weren't totally there but the melody was...which made me as a music teacher pretty excited!) Macy loves this song, and it's a really wonderful way to teach body parts. Here is a video of the song (I especially love that the song is spoken first and then sung, as I think this is super helpful for speech-delayed children.)

What are your favorite ways to teach body parts? Feel free to comment below!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meet Macy

Meet my daughter Macy.

She will be turning three this summer. She loves blowing and popping bubbles, playing doll house, singing (anything from her ABC's to "Rumor has it" by Adele), cuddling on the couch with us, and playing in the pool. She enjoys peek-a-boo, taking walks, swinging on swings, and reading books. One of her favorite things to say is "thank you!" as she gives you a coy smile. Most of the time (when she's not throwing a tantrum here or there) she is a happy, happy girl.

In many ways, Macy is normal, but she also has a speech delay. A year and a half ago, after realizing that her speech wasn't developing the way that it should, I realized she might have fluid in her ears. She'd only been diagnosed with two ear infections, so the doctor was skeptical, but after testing and waiting and testing again, we found out I was right.

She had tubes put in her ears, and we immediately noticed a change in her hearing. Speech, though, was slower to come. It would come in spurts; sometimes I'd think "Now she's really going to take off!" much like my 11-year-old did when she was a toddler, but then her speech development would slow down again.

She's been in speech therapy since October of last year, and I've definitely seen improvements. She is making great eye contact. She's starting to tell us what she wants (like "Cake!" "Cookies!" as she runs to the high chair.) But there are still struggles, like when she just won't tell us that she's hungry and she screams and cries, or when strangers walk up to her at the store, expecting to have a conversation with her ("Hello! What's your name? How old are you?") and Macy gives them a blank stare, or just ignores them.

I've found some good resources online, but I don't know anyone else with children who currently have speech delays. I, myself, didn't really talk intelligibly until I was five. From what I understand, speech delay can be hereditary, so this may be exactly how I was at this age. Times have changed, though, and parenting has gotten competitive. It can make it even more isolating when you hear people bantering back and forth about the latest thing their two-year-old can do, and your almost three-year-old isn't doing any of those things...

I am starting this blog--even though I have another active blog about music education--to connect to parents in the same or similar situation, to lend a listening ear, to offer strategies that have worked for Macy, and to offer resources to help develop your own child's speech. I am not a speech expert, just a mom trying to work with my daughter as much as possible so she is not only happy but developing the way she should be.

Feel free to subscribe to the blog, and leave a comment below! Have a great day!