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!

Beauty And The Beast

Image result for Beauty and the beast

We took Daisy to see Beauty and the Beast on Saturday 3rd June: a last minute last weekend of the half-term treat. Personally, I thought it was an unnecessary re-make: the additions to the story were ineffective and the new songs dull. And I didn’t like the clompy way Beast walked: I much preferred the fluid menacing grace of the cartoon. And Emma Watson very much underwhelmed…. but hey ho. This isn’t a review of the film. And Daisy loved it, really engaging with the narrative – especially in the fight scenes – watching very intently as Gaston fought Beast and whooping with a lovely “Yay!” and fist bump when Gaston fell to his grisly death! Much to the amusement – or possibly irritation – of the people around us.

However, coming back to language, when we went to see the film, I walked Daisy into the cinema earlier in the day so it was familiar, introduced her to the sign for cinema and I signed “Beauty” and “Beast” pointing to the pictures on the poster…

And on Monday, we were driving towards the cinema again and heard an excited squeal from her. When I turned around, she signed the Beast sign as clear as you’d like! Literally forty-eight hours after she’d last seen it and, before Saturday, we had never used the Beast sign as a proper noun, only as the generic “animal” sign.

Spider-Man

Another balloon-based post…

We have a card shop where we live. It sells balloons… cheap ones out the front to tempt in toddler pester power!

Well we passed it today and Daisy wanted a balloon. Quel Suprise! 

And yes, maybe, perhaps a little bit, I could be seen as guilty of gender stereotyping – but I know what she likes so assumed she was pointing to Peppa Pig or Frozen … until she signed very clearly the sign for “spider”. 

Now, I’ve known that she’s known the sign for spider for a while.

And she has come across Spider-man on various Learn Colours With Heroes type videos on You Tube but they’ve never been signed. Maybe I’ve used the verbal word “Spider-man”. But she’s not seen any Spider-man films or cartoons so she’s got no awareness of the origin story. And he looks more man than spider. 

But,  somehow, from just this balloon

she recognised that there was something spidery going on and that she possessed an appropriate sign.

And used it.

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!