Shoes Off

A simple quick post here.

Daisy knows and has known the BSL sign for shoes for ages. It’s familiar, secure, both used and understood. 

Admittedly, her dominant hand slips of her secondary hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and half way up her upper arm, but the meaning is clear.

She also much prefers being barefoot – possibly something else inherited or learned from me. I took her to the park yesterday and as we approached she tugged my arm and did the shoe sign in reverse. Her secondary hand over her primary one, slipped off and away. A very clear “Can I take my shoes off, please, Daddy?” question.

I have no idea how to actually formally sign that question but she found a way to ask it!

The Ghost Game

Is four too young to introduce a child to the conventions of the Gothic fiction genre?

Daisy has recently discovered the joys of the torch app on a mobile. She’ll turn it on and illuminate stuff and zoom in on it to inspect it – careers in the police or science – possibly both in forensics- beckon perhaps. 

She’s also become taken with the idea of torchlit baths with my phone propped up in the corner! The other day, I was giving her a bath like that – the first time she did it – and my wife walked in. First thought wasn’t “Oh, the bulbs gone in the light,” it was “Oh for heaven’s sake, what are you two up to now?” as she turned the lights back on.

Anyway, in addition to torchlit baths, I’ve also shown her that she can make the light red by putting her finger over it. Instantly fascinated. And as the bath runs, we now have the Ghost Game: she’ll cover the torch and I’ll approach going “woooooo!” and as I get nearer she’ll whip her finger off, brandish the white light at me and I’ll shrink back á la Peter Cushing. And the the cycle continues. And she swaps roles, being the ghost as well. 

She is so going to thank me in ten years when she reads The Red Room!

And now she’s started signing for the game by using the actions of the ghost – accompanied by a “WoooOOOoo” – which is pretty much the ghost sign in BSL.

Good!

I have waited so long for this sign. For Daisy to use language – signed or otherwise – for communication rather than transaction. Currently, pretty much all her language is about transaction: getting stuff she wants done. 

It’s because of this that – in the tumbleweed moment at our meeting with the Educational Psychologist when she asked what outcomes we wanted – I asked that “to express her feelings and emotions” be used at her desired EHCP outcome. 

And, as is typical of her, after months of using the sign and modelling it – particularly with the help of The Fox And The Star, which tells us that “Even when the rain fell, Fox felt fine…”, suddenly she uses it spontaneously and entirely appropriately in a completely different context. In this case, whilst getting into the bath. One foot in, one foot out, she looked at me, looked at her hands and very carefully, very deliberately raised her thumbs. 

A minute later, the ‘good’ sign was linked to other signs: bath good, daddy good, Daisy good….

This morning, I asked if she was good and she shook her head. In fairness, it was very early and she did appear to be in a somewhat grumpy mood. But, when she found my laptop and we put Frozen on, we had another little happy squeal, a finger pointed to the screen and the “good” sign returned!

And it is the cutest sign ever!

Poop

It’s one of those difficult milestones for Daisy: does she know when she has been to toilet?

How do you know this when the child in question is non-verbal? She had never come to us in the past distressed because her nappy was full but that doesn’t mean she didn’t know….

But now we can confidently say “yes” to this question.

When she has gone, she will sometimes come up to us, point to the nappy and blow a big fat raspberry to say that she has gone! Ppphhhtthhhhpppp! Not really a word, not a sign, but certainly enough to make herself understood.

If asked then, “Have you done a poo?” she will reply “Yes,” and always be right. Sometimes she makes the noise but, when asked, say “no,” which generally means she’s had a good fart and wanted to share that news!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

A couple of days ago, whilst reading Coralie Bickford-Smith’s gorgeous The Fox and The Star – when did books get so good looking? – we were merrily signing Fox and Star for obvious reasons and, on the page where Fox looks up and sees a sky full of stars – which always elicits a “Yay!” from her, so there’s some sense of following a narrative going on. –  

fox and star stars

Anyway, at this page, I started singing and signing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It seemed an obvious thing to do. Despite my singing voice.

But Daisy joined in! Certainly the signing and some humming along to the melody. FABULOUS!

I asked her, “Do you sing that at school?”

“Yeah,” she replied.

BRILLIANT!!

So, as you do, we repeated the song over and over. Tried to do it to an audience of one – her mum – the following day without success.

But here’s the thing.

We went on a road trip the next day. Yesterday. And tried to get her to sing-sign again. Again without success. But, being, generally, an idiot, I mused later “I wonder if we could get her to sign with her feet….”

This was perhaps at nine in the morning.

At seven at night, book number three was again The Fox and The Star after The Gruffalo’s Child and The Highway Rat. Again, we reached the skyful of stars and signed Twinkle Twinkle… and she stuck her foot out! Clenching and unclenching her toes to make a star sign, tapping her head with her big toe like a contortionist to wonder. 

Either she heard my earlier comment, understood it, remembered it ten hours later and responded when the context invited it… or she is just as bonkers as her dad!

fox adn star

Introduction

This is probably where I should explain the purpose of this blog. The background to it.

My daughter is nearly four and is still almost completely non-verbal. We have lots of professionals involved: Portage, Consultant Paediatricians, Speech and Language; she’s being assessed for the autistic spectrum. And being a “rising five” in September, albeit only just, we’re looking at the prospect of fulltime schooling. Our current plan is to defer her entry to school for a year because of her language difficulties which have then caused delay in progress (or at least delay in expressing her progress) elsewhere. We’re also looking at an Education Health and Care Plan – formerly known as a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

And so we’ve had a lot of professionals asking us about her language. And it transpires that she uses language differently in different contexts. “Inconsistent,” say pre-school; “Code switching,” I thought. It appears that her language use with me is richer and more confident than with anyone else.

She has some very limited verbal words; she can produce a number of onomatopoeias; she has a wider range of signs which I have taught her – I’ve primarily self-taught myself British Sign Language from thd internet. Speech and Language suggested Makaton but there were very limited resources for that, at least that I could find.

Personally, I’m also interested in how those two languages (verbal and sign) interact: she seems more compliant to signed instructions than verbal ones!

So, this blog is generally serving a number of roles but two main ones: firstly, to celebrate her progress which I think is rapid; secondly, a record of her verbal and signed vocabulary. It’s tricky sometimes to remember what she can do when put on the spot by professionals!