The latest Portage visit suggested that using language – signed or spoken – to choose between options was Daisy’s next step to reinforce that language can give her ownership and control over her world.
So currently, the bedtime routine now includes her choosing which order to get her toys: dog or bear; boy elephant or girl elephant; big bear or little bear; cat or elephant.
She is doing well with it, just about geting the idea of choosing. Last night, she did leap from bed and take one of the toys from my hand and I was about to tell her that she had to use signs, but then she put another toy into my empty hand, ran back to bed and waited to be given the choice!
She also copied beautifully the signs for both the question “What does Daisy want?” and the reply “Daisy wants… please”.
We have also transferred the game to the bathroom where I ask her whether she wants the pink or blue soap.
We’ve not had the “want” sign spontaneously yet but, for the previous two years, I’ve yearned for her to be able to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas and – provided Santa can sign – we’re nearly there this year!!
Daisy has shown a distinction between me and her mum: the word “Mum” has been secure and regularly used for months; the sign for “Dad” has been equally secure and regularly used, perhaps for longer. But is generally very much a verbal “Mum” – even though she knows, uses and is secure with the sign for “Mum” – and a signed “Dad”.
This week, we have been going for walks in the woods and playing hide-and-seek. When her mum hid, Daisy and I called out “Mum!” with the pantomime of hands around mouth and the elongated “u”… “Muuuuuuuuuuuuuum!”
When I hid, taking turns nicely, which is her target to work on from Portage, I swear I heard her calling out in a similarly pantomime manner “Daaaaaaad!” although her “d” sound was a tad indistinct. Obviously, when her mum tried to video it, she reverted back to signing “Dad” which is a little pointless when playing hide-and-seek!
I’ve also heard it used around the home in her play, generally when she is about to throw herself off a high place preceded with a “Help, Dad!” and launching into thin air. I would prefer her to wait for me to be closer to her before the launching!
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!