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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Suggestions needed

Mom, I'm way too cute and can get everything I need with my smile.  Trust me!
 As part of Emma's aural rehabilitation and really just as part of being teaching my little one, I'm constantly talking to Emma, naming things, "narrating my day", etc.  It's clear to me that Emma knows and understands us and I've been trying to take it to the next level of her communicating back to us.  Her main form of communication is currently smiles, laughs, whines, cries and vocalizations.  She also uses her eye gaze quite effectively.

Previously, we've worked with picture cards with Emma but she had very little interest in using the cards after a few weeks.  We've worked with the iPad - mostly the Yes/No and Proloquo2go apps.  She definitely is interested in the iPad but has a very short attention span for communicating on it so it's rather hit or miss with her.  I'm trying to build her vocabulary and prompt her to communicate more and was looking to use both high tech (iPad) and low tech (picture cards, buttons, switches, etc.) to keep her interested.  When I came across a blog post on Adapting Creatively that showed how to turn a swim noodle into a card holder I thought this would be perfect for us!  You can see the original post here.  I bought a pool noodle on clearance for $0.75 and set about making the card holder in various lengths.

We've been doing same and different matching with Emma.  Her SLP gave me the cards for Brown Bear, Brown Bear and we have her match the photos in the book to the matching card.  Emma loved this game and was very in tune with the cards and picking the "same" card as the picture in the book.  She would pick correctly about 90% of the time and we implemented this game for the Goodnight Moon book.  Then, she decided she didn't really like this game after all and found anything she could to distract herself from what we were trying to play with her.  Suddenly, the lights, a spot on the floor, her fingers, anything was more exciting than playing the matching game.  This is pretty much how Emma operates in her speech and hearing formal and informal sessions - she prefers not to participate.  So, we stopped playing that game for more than a month to see if her interest would be sparked again after a long break.

When I saw the noodle card holder I thought it might be a good time to re-introduce the book matching game.  Originally we would show her the book and then prop it up and hold the two card choices for her - one in each hand, but using the noodle card holder would make this game easier to play and allow us to increase the level of difficulty by using 3 or more card choices for her to pick from (this would be difficult if I could only hold them in my hand).  I was so excited to start playing this game again and try out the noodle but, sadly, Emma wasn't interested in playing with me.  After several attempts over a couple of days to play with Emma refusing to play along I decided to try something else.

I took the flash cards we have and placed them in the noodle and made a big fuss and tried to have Emma pick between two flash cards.  She was very happy to sit in the play room and have me talk all about the cards and make noises and talk them up and put them in the noodle for her to pick between the two while she completely ignored me.  And, it was a lot of work for her to ignore me - I wasn't making it easy on her!  Often I find she works so hard to ignore when it would be lots easier to just give in and play and I just don't get it.

I'm looking for any ideas or suggestions on how to get Emma to take an interest in communicating.  If you've been there, done that before I'm open to all ideas.  Please, please share them with me.

Here are a few photos I took when it was obvious I had an unwilling partner in my game.  Enjoy the serious cuteness of Emma!

There is NO WAY I am going to look at these flash cards.  No way, no how.
Horray!  She is ending this torture session.  No, onto more important things like cuddling with Finnegan.

A view from the back.

2 Comments from readers:

Tricia and Kenny said...

Emmi went through a period where she would not vocalize. I knew she understood us, but she hardly spoke out loud. She would go out of her way to do things on her own, before she would communicate with me. For example, she learned to pour her own milk, instead of attempting to ask for milk. Her therapist basically told us we had to "sabotage" her. For instance, move the cups so high that Emmi would have to ask for them. I always felt so mean, though, so I was not the best at following through with it. :) have you tried setting up situations where she would have to communicate? I honestly can't even remember what kind of success we did have when we did it, because it has been so long since then.

Randi Sargent said...

My son with CP is and will be non-verbal but does communicate using some sign, gesture and of course AAC. We have found that talking about himself is very motivating. Try creating an "About Me" book with photos of family, places and all things she loves. She will want to see it and share it with others, great for socializing which of course is communicating! You can make low tech books on board books or even in Word. You can even make a talking version with with a Talking Photo Album (www.givinggreetings.com/taphal.html). My son still loves to look and share his! Good luck and stay the course.