Talking.It’s something that many of us take for granted. Babies acquire gurgling sounds which transition into more coherent structures of vowels and consonants before becoming recognisable words and phrases. Thus communication in its most advanced form is born. We use language countless times every day and we expect others to do the same ,otherwise communication breaks down and confusion reigns. I see the speed at which Mini Mini acquires new words and it astonishes me. At just under 20 months,she has amassed more words than her 4-year-old sister. She understands French and English and has some Irish Sign Language also. She is just like a little sponge soaking up words at a I’ve been lax of late with Mini’s Speech and Language. There has been some family turbulence outside the home, countless meetings as Mini moves from the Galway City West Early Intervention Team to its Galway North counterpart. We’ve also had our fair share of visitors to the new house, which has been lovely but it’s been busy!
Speech and Language is probably the area where Mini has most difficulty and I have a huge helping of Mammy guilt that I’ve neglected this area for the last few weeks. When she can’t communicate effectively with us, it’s incredibly frustrating for the poor thing, and there has been a lot of screaming as she tries desperately to make her intentions and needs be known. At this point, she has started to drop the signs that have been bridging the communication abyss as she obviously feelsshe is making the right sound to be understood correctly. Alas, not so and this morning as the tourists once again braved the cold,grey drizzle,I stayed behind to tackle the increasing amount of speech and language resources I have yet to file correctly. Mini has a great Speech and Language therapist who isn’t shy about making sure we have plenty of resources to help aid her vocabulary.
They say a picture tell a thousand words and while that is true to a degree, it simply cannot replace the accessibility of spoken language. It’s a great start though and for those of you who may have wondered how we help a child with a Down syndrome learn how to speak, this is our starting point. As Mini is a visual leaner,we gather pictures of objects and she first learns to match the pictures to the pictures. Later she will match the words to the words and finally the pictures to the words. It’s a slow process. Not only does Mini have to work extra hard to connect the words to their real image, she must also master the tricky act of correct pronunciation, something that is not helped by her small mouth and comparatively large tongue. But as always, she’s a real trooper and will (mostly!) happily sit for up to twenty five minutes and work on her words. It’s up to me now to make sure she gets that daily push to help her crack the communication code. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, that’s for sure!