The week is coming to an end, and so is our time at the John Tracy Clinic.The classes are defiantly getting more intense and in-depth. Especially "speech", it is so complicated! But more about that later...
As I mentioned before, the first 45 minutes of school the parents spend in class with our kids, using the skills we are learning. Today, Miss Kat and I lead a song! We sang "Monkey and Alligator". She LOVED being Mr. Alligator, and SNAPing the monkeys "right out of that tree". By the end, Miss Kat was trying to sing along all the words, and she has NEVER sung. She likes having me sing, and she loves adding key words, but she has never tried to sing the entire song before.
So, our first class of the day was about social interactions and deaf children. We went over the major reasons that social interactions and communication break down between deaf and hearing kids:
1. Having a different level of auditory skills than peers. (a lower level)
2. Not being understood by peers.
3. Not knowing the slang or general language used by the group.
4. Being unable to successfully enter a group.
5. Being unable to follow directions.
6. Being unable to stay on, or maintain a topic.
7. Unable to change topic appropriately
8. Inappropriately interacting during play.
9. Not knowing the rules of play.
10. Not being up to date with peers interesting toys, movies, latest crazies, etc.
11. Being unaware of others feelings.
Angie Stokes, the preschool director and our teacher, mentioned that when parents mainstream their children, they are always worried about academics (and rightly so). They make all the preparations to make sure that the child will succeed academically, but that the mainstream teachers consistently come back and say that the kids do great academically, BUT that it is their social skills that are holding them back. So, I am going to go through the above list, point by point, and explain why.
1. Obviously if a child's auditory skills are poor, they will have trouble understanding the other children, especially in groups or in a noisy classroom.
2. Children generally will give one, maybe two chances for our kids to make themselves understood, after that, they are going to give up and walk away. That is why the speech and articulation piece is still important.
3. If your child doesn't know what the other kids are talking about, they are going to be left behind.
4. Entering a group is very important. And within that, coping with being rejected, regrouping, and trying again. (Apparently, the whole key is bring something to the group, and ask if they want to play with your toy) A huge part of teaching this skill is role playing. "What can we do differently next time?"Also, teaching to ask if they can join, and how to introduce themselves.
5. Following directions is key in cooperative play. If you can't follow the directions given by the other kids, they will get mad because they feel like you are "ruining the game".
6. Staying on topic is a skill that develops with age. At 2, we would expect 2 turns in conversation. Then you add one turn per year of age.
7. Our kids tend to try to control conversations because they don't want to get left behind. If they are talking, they won't get confused. "If we talk about something I know, I will be able to follow the conversation" Therefore, sometimes they have trouble relinquishing control.
8. Again, a lot of kids with language delays tend to want to play more physically, because then they don't have to communicate. It is a lot easier to play tag, than have a tea party, for a child with limited language skills.
9. Cooperative play involves a lot of "rules", and if our kids don't have the language to understand what the other kids want, communication will break down. Pre-teaching, and playing these games at home, or with understanding, patient peers (like a cousin) will help our kids get the language, and understand the rules.
10. TRENDS TRENDS TRENDS! So, make sure your kids watch "High School Musical". (Oh god, I think I just threw up in my mouth! Never thought I would ever give that advice!!!)
11. Our kids miss out on a lot of incidental learning, because they don't "overhear" well. So we need to make sure they understand social cues. We have to explain emotions and manners and how to react in a socially acceptable way.
I really don't know how I felt about this whole class. I don't like the idea of Miss Kat being rejected and I would just prefer to keep her in situations where I know she will be successful, and won't be rejected. I guess it is impossible to do that forever, and that I need to help her be prepared and help her learn to be successful in ALL situations. It just hurts so much. Coaching her on trends and slang so she can be cool? The whole subject made me nauseous.
Our next lesson was on "Vocal Play" vs. formal speech. The first point made was that EVERY speech sound can be learned through vocal play. Mary mentioned the "Learning to Listen" toys and sounds. http://www.listen-up.org/dnload/listen.pdf and their use for little ones. Also, SING SING SING! Singing is a great way to teach DIP (duration, intensity, and pitch) which is the very first step to speech. Add songs to all your daily routines. (I must admit that we are just starting to sing again. We haven't for 4 years. I felt stupid singing to a deaf kid. I thought "What is the point?" But now, Miss Kat LOVES it, and I am happy to have it back.)
Ok, on to formal speech.
SPEECH IS AN ACOUSTIC EVENT
We speak BECAUSE we hear.
We speak WHAT we hear.
Therefore, the easiest, most effective way to teach (and learn) spoken language is through AUDITION! Seems simple enough, right? As long as our kids are hearing wellenough, all aspects of speech can be developed through listening.
So, let's say you have been doing your vocal play but your SLT thinks that developmentally your child should have developed a sound and they haven't. That is when formal speech teaching happens. (NEVER before age 3, and only sounds that should already be there developmentally:
So, for each speech target:
1. Choose the appropriate modality (First auditorily, then visual or tactile)
2. Work from the known to the unknown. So, for a sound that they don't know, find one that they do know. It needs to share manner, placement, or voice. (For example, "p" and "b" share manner, and "d" and "n" share placement.)
The goals of phonetic and phonological speech teaching are:
-Accuracy (we want their speech to be intelligible)
-Economy of effort (speaking should not be work)
-Speed (they need to speak at a normal rate)
-Flexibility (they need to be able to alternate between different syllables with different vowels...sne sna sno)
-Automaticity (there shouldn't be tons of thought, it should flow naturally)
And, yes, all of that can be taught through listening! As long as our kids are hearing well, it is totally possible. I am seeing Miss Kat improving every single day. Now if only I could teach the SLP at her school...
Our last lesson of the day was on successful mainstreaming. This class didn't apply to Miss Kat yet, but it did give us some really good checklists that go by age, and what skills are needed for effectively and successfully being mainstreamed with hearing peers at each age.
The research shows that kiddos should not be mainstreamed until they have 75% intelligibility (by strangers) and are using 3 word phrases. They should be understood by peers in no more than 2 attempts. They also need to have very good distance hearing. (You need to find out how big your child's "hearing bubble" is. Do the Ling sounds further and further away. See how well they hear at 1, 5, 10, and 30 feet. For a mainstream classroom, they need to be discriminating ALL the sounds at 30+ feet)
So, after school, I asked Angie if she had any suggestions for Miss Kat's placement next year. She came up with a miracle! She suggested that Miss Kat stay at the bi-bi school 3 days a week (for ASL and academics) and then go to the oral deaf KINDERGARTEN for the other 2 days! This way she can play catch up with her spoken language in an environment that she doesn't have to worry about academics. She will already know the stuff, so she just has to focus on picking up on the language. Also, she will be at the bi-bi school 3 days a week, in a row, so we won't be sacrificing ASL or her academics in 1st grade. The idea really feels right, and it did to Hubby too. I finally feel like there is a workable plan for Miss Kat!!