In June 2011 Noah had his first evaluation by a private SPL (speech and language pathologist). Although I felt like he had given a good representation of his abilities, I was stunned by the initial report. He was diagnosed with severe receptive expressive language disorder and speech disorder as well as his obvious Down syndrome. She said he exhibited a severe speech and language delay placing him approximately 3 years below his chronological age (that would put him at age 1 when he was really 4-1/2). She said his speech skills were not even functional. (Somehow I knew that, but it is so hard to see it in writing). She also said in her report that articulation skills are difficult for children with Down syndrome to acquire unless intensive daily therapy is started at a younger age. (This compared to ECI who only began speech therapy with Noah at my request and even then said he only needed services once a month.) As much as I know ECI underserved Noah, I also do have to beg this question: “How many kids with Down syndrome do you know who get intensive daily therapy?” And how many children with Down syndrome learn to articulate fairly well? Plenty is the answer, plenty. The SLP went on to state that sign language was the mode of communication that Noah was developing the most easily and that that should be encouraged and built upon so Noah can communicate with others. She game him a good rehabilitation potential and she did point out that speech may increase as his language skills increase (it has).
One thing I realized during the evaluation was that Noah was not understanding as much as I thought he was. He knew what a fork was, but he did not know to point to it when asked, “What do you eat with.” He knew where a hat belongs, but he did not know that you “wear” it. That was a little crushing, because I had believed he had very high receptive language skills.
The evaluating SLP is not the one who wound up taking Noah on as a client. Noah’s SLP has worked with him once a week for the six months following the evaluation. June of 2011 Noah could say four words. He could sign about 50.
January 2012, 6-1/2 months later, Noah signs about 150 words, and he signs whole sentences at times. In the last couple months he has started using PECs. He is using his bathroom yes/no board by pointing to and attempting to say each word. That in itself is HUGE!!!!! When he gets stuck with his signing, he will go to the refrigerator and find the picture card that he wants and points to it for me.
He can say or make close approximations to about 30 words: (If some of these look familiar, it is because a lot of them are Kaufmann card words – it works!!) Mama, Papa, pee pee, yes, please, pet, pie, pat, pop, jump, milk, moo, moo moo, boo, boo boo, baa baa, bat, pea, bay, bat, baba, book, tweet, peep, two, tie, tea, pup, up, purple, blue and new. Not only can he imitate these words if I say them first, but he can also look at the pictures on the flash cards and initiate the word on his own.
So he’s 5, he can say 30 words. How do I feel about that? FABULOUS. Remember, this was the boy who was silent for four years. He said his first word about a year ago and now he can say 30. I don’t know where we’ll end up here, but I do know the goal, PROGRESS. And we are reaching it every day – progress.
Where are you today and where are you headed? What’s helping you get there? Drop us a line – we’d love to hear.