Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First words

For the past few weeks, our animated babbler has been working on saying his very first words. Like we are finding with many milestones, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive time when a milestone occurs.  Right now, it’s a lot of, “did that just happen?” If you’re lucky, someone else is around to witness and confirm the event. And then the new skill will disappear for a bit and slowly creep it’s way back in until it’s consistent. We’re definitely in that process with spoken language, but when we hear those words, it’s for sure worth the wait. 

What have we heard?

Dada- Dada has been around for a little while- not usually limited to two “da's,” but most definitely associated with Thomas.  When James knows that Thomas is coming home from work and hears the door unlock, he’ll enthusiastically say a plethora of “dadadas,” also sometimes accompanied by the gesture for dad.

Yiayia- Yiayia is the Greek word for grandma, and both of his grandmothers have claimed that to be his first word for a long time.  We were happy to play along, but now the word is definitely here.  He loves to talk to both of his yiayias on the phone when he can’t see them in person and gets jealous if I’m taking up too much of the conversation.

Mama—This one is heard less frequently than "dada" and "yiayia" but becoming more consistent. He used to say it only when he was upset, but I’m hearing a few happy “mamas” now, sometimes even followed by a hug. :)

No- One of our most used. Though we are not yet walking, the toddler days are here! It often comes out just as a short, “oh,” accompanied by a face scrunch and arm swipe.

Bye- One of my favorites. James definitely prefers waving bye-bye over saying it, but we’re hearing it more and more frequently.  And I love when we catch him waving at himself and practicing the word.

Go, go, go-  There's never just one go, and it's more like "doh, doh, doh," which I hope never changes.  This one is used when he wants to be pushed in his favorite toy car, when someone is stopping the grocery cart for too long, or when he thinks it's time for the vacuum cleaner to move it. 

Eye- James loves pointing out the eyes on his stuffed animals and any other creatures he can find.  And then snuggling with them.

Ghost words—“More” and “hello” have been heard and confirmed by at least two sources, but he doesn’t just show his cards to anyone at anytime.  We have to work for those.

James still primarily communicates using his gestures and most likely will for a little while.  But when we see him able to use the word, we back off the gesture and really encourage him to say it! And we repeat words…a lot. So many times. But the repetition is helping him make sense of this crazy world, and we love when we get to see the effects.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tongue in, please!

You might notice that many babies and young kids with Down syndrome have a habit of sticking out their cute little tongues.  

There’s some debate about why this happens, but causes might be hypotonia (or low muscle tone) or having a small mouth and high palate, which can make the tongue a little too big for the mouth.

We’ve been working on keeping James’ tongue in his mouth ever since he was a wee little guy through a number of things.  We’ve done oral motor exercises with our therapists; used a toothbrush, wet washcloth, or z-vibe to stimulate the oral muscles; and James has worked hard to be able to drink out of a super short straw. 

Drinking out of his Honey Bear straw cup from Talk Tools

Since he now is able to understand the concept of keeping his tongue in his mouth, for the past couple of months, we just say, “tongue in” and lightly touch his tongue so he pulls it back in his mouth.

The other day, James decided to take matters into his own hands when I said, “tongue in, please,” and before I could reach his mouth, he stuck his own little finger in his mouth and adamantly pushed in that tongue. 

After a couple of days of pushing in his tongue himself, he decided that maybe I needed some work on tongue placement, and he was the man for the job.

And now we have a weird, fun game we play.

We’ve created the tongue police.  Watch out, Michael Jordan. :)