Saturday, July 08, 2006

speech therapy

L/L (she's switching back and forth betw. the names in a very confusing manner) has made astronomical progress in speech therapy this year. But the thing that makes me almost happier is that she's not so ashamed of her speech any more. She's feeling a lot better about how she talks.

Yesterday we spent the day hanging out with one of her friends from preschool, and L. mispronounces this little girl's name. The girl, tactfully enough for her age, brought up how "a lot of kids can't say my name right." L. got the subtext (that she wasn't saying the name right) and said, with confidence, "Jill comes all the time to teach me, and I practice every night in bed, and soon I will be talking really really good!" She told her friend that she would work on her name in speech therapy. I was so happy that she wasn't shutting up in shame, like she always used to (the day she said so quietly and sadly, "I can't talk" was heartbreaking).

Those of you who were on the camping weekend might have noticed that she didn't talk to you for the most part. She's not comfortable talking with new people, usually (although we had a charismatic cabdriver last week who got her to give him directions). She loves attention, but she can be shy about her speech. I was so thrilled with her little speech to her friend because it showed her own pride in her work and her optimism.
it's night and day. Black and white. It is absolutely MINDBOGGLING the progress she's made this year. She's done more in half a year than I hoped she'd achieve in two years of speech therapy.
Before: only me & Iris able to understand much, and we understood about 80% of what she said. Anton understood about 30-40% of what she said. Her preschool teachers and other kids understood about zero (yes, zero) of what she said. She "telegraphed", speaking in as few words as possible, and relied heavily upon body language and facial expressions. She would go to extremes to avoid speaking to anyone other than me and Iris. She was diagnosed at being in the 2nd percentile (second!) for speech ability for a child her age; at 3 1/2, she was speaking BELOW the level of the average 18 month old.
Now: I understand about 98% of what she says, and even new people (especially parents, who are used to talking to little kids) can understand most of what she says. Every now and then she stumps me (today I had a lot of trouble figuring out the word "sneaker"), but the sheer fluidity of her speech and the confident way she trots out new words makes tears come into my eyes. I was so afraid for her, but speech therapy has fixed her up to an almost unbelievable extent.
Today in speech therapy, she worked on words ending in "ish", on pronouncing c/k without sticking an l in there (and her speech therapist taught me a touch cue to show her not to put an l in: speak k and then hold your own tongue down with an index finger), and on the name "Louise."

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