Pre-School Pretest: What My Son knew and ate before starting school (dev center) and first few days

Age: 2 years, 8 months

1st day at dev center (at age 2)

1st day at dev center (at age 2)


SPOKEN WORDS: (Some of these are “approximations” technically, where some of the word is said, but as long as I know he is saying something that sounds like the word and using it in the context that makes sense, I just count it as a word.) Usually people who are around him on a weekly basis would be able to understand what he is saying; or just someone who has worked with young children.

PHRASES
“did it!”
“Read, please” (or book please)

ball
book
read
banana (doesn’t say “b” part usually)
“nanas” (his own word, meaning snacks usually)
Mommy
Dadda
Nin Nin
Poppa/Papa
Meme for “Memaw”
up
down
hat
bye bye (or just bye)
cheese (no ch sound yet)
potty (says it “pot pot” while signing potty)
“poo poo” (meaning what you think)
bath-spoken as “ba ba”
Kix (as in the corn puff cereal) Says all but the “i” part, surprisingly.
hi
hello– “-Lo”
outside
hot
dog/doggie
toe (For actual toes as well as Cheetos, which he occasionally eats)
“Tee” (for tortillas-He loves em!)
red (only repeats so far; doesn’t seem to identify this color that I can tell.)
wow
woah
please

He says “–gle” and shakes his hands making an excited sound, always the same sound, when he wants to watch The Wiggles, which is all the time. Pretty sweet. That and Signing Time are the only shows he’s ever made up a gesture to request watching.

ASL (American Sign Language) SIGNS USED, broken down by topic:

NATURE
wind
rain
snow
outside
tree
grass
stars
moon
cold
hot

ANIMALS (he does a sound for all of these as well. some sounds but not signs for certain animals.)
fish
shark
dog
cat
monkey
gorilla
bird
horse

FOOD/DRINK/MEALTIME
water
milk (not as much lately)
eat
drink
cheese
cracker
apple
table
more
cereal
finished/all done
“no thank you” (shakes head while signing thank you. only when prompted, working on thsi instead of pushing food away or throwing it!)

BATHROOM
wash hands
potty
clean
brush teeth

PEOPLE/interaction word signs
baby
Dad
Mom
Grandpa (does this for both grandma and grandpa right now)
uncle
(He has some signs he made up for some aunts and uncles and touches his cheek because of something my mom did a lot when talking to him. haha )
please
down
up
go
please
together
read
help
name
thank you
yes (nods head or ASL version)
Love you (his variation of the “I love you” sign that includes the three ASL letters).

EVERYDAY OBJECTS
hat
book
boat
car

BEDTIME
goodnight
sleepy
sleep
wake up/awake

FEELING WORDS
happy
mad/grumpy/angry
sleepy
surprised

COLOR SIGNS
red

NON-ASL GESTURES USED TO COMMUNICATE
“love you” gesture
“kiss” (blows kisses and will kiss when asked)
(BODY PARTS)
touches head
face
hands
nose
hair
knees
toes
ears
eyes
mouth
teeth
chest

PRETEND PLAY
has done brief pretend play things such as eating fake fruit (pretend eating and sounds), pretending popcorn pieces are eyeballs by holding them up and saying “eye!” and most frequently, pretending something is a hat that he clearly knows is not a hat and saying “hat” and placing it on his head. Also makes toys make animal sounds.

It is hard for me to keep up with everything, but I’m trying my best to keep up since I’m asked what he can say and do a lot! Being with Ethan one day as an acquaintance or stranger (or even family) doesn’t always give a clear picture of what he can do because he is shy at first!

watermark backpack
FIRST FEW DAYS

So far Ethan has been on the sad side at school, but he will still eat and nap and sometimes play! The transitions from 1-on-1 therapy back to class are hard for him as is being dropped off at school. He drank from a sippy once for his classroom teachers so hopefully we will see more progress there as he watches the other kids drink from cups. (Just so you know, if you have a kid with Down Syndrome, sippy cups are not generally recommended-well and many SLPs will say not to give ANY kids sippys, but we just try everything with Ethan because he is nearly 3 and still on a bottle. He loves that bottle even though he can drink from a Tervis..and apparently a sippy!) Most cups for kids on the market now are just so hard for Ethan to get out-I’ve seen him diligently try and fail to get the thickened liquid out. Its hard for me-yes I try it too!

I’ll try to post what he has learned from school and how the transition is going for those who are interested because you are A) an Ethan fan or B) you are considering a developmental center for your child.

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Dos and Don’ts When Talking to Kids with Speech Delays

He put on his Daddy's headphones.

He put on his Daddy’s headphones.

These are all from my perspective as a mother of a 2 year old with speech delays and also just general experience with kids of different abilities and sensitivities. (was early childhood major/teaching intern, daycare worker, and child therapist to give a little background)

1) DO try to engage the child (or adult, same premise) in direct conversation as you would a typical kid. You can always adjust the conversation if you do not know the child well and realize there may not be a detailed back-and-forth, but ignoring a kid or only talking to the parents about the child doesn’t give the kid a chance to interact and communicate, and it doesn’t show the same interest as people show in other kids (assuming they aren’t the type that believe children should be “seen and not heard”!)

I appreciate when people ask my kid questions or talk to my kid rather than assume they won’t answer or be nervous they won’t answer. Sometimes my son responds and sometimes he doesn’t, like many pre-K kids.

2) Do NOT assume that because you personally haven’t heard the child talk much that the child will not know what you are talking about.The same rules for “Rated G” conversations apply to kids with or without delays. Kids usually can understand more than you think what you are saying, even if they are completely nonverbal or have limited language. Even if they don’t understand the words, they are always learning and can pop out with an inappropriate or adult word at any time. People don’t mean to do this but it’s definitely hard for even families to remember.

cookie monster more alike than different

3) Do NOT fill in everything for the kid or rush a child along who is working through a word. This is not so much from personal experience since my son is still pretty young and either says a word or doesn’t (or part of a word or sign), but it has always been a pet peeve of mine; as though we are all in too much a hurry to let a young child get practice in constructing their sentences. Some people probably just feel awkward and want the sentence to end, but give some “wait time” first.

4) DO encourage your children or students to treat children with speech delays as just another child and gently correct them if they are treating the children with speech (or other) delays like they are “babies.” I can already see kids Ethan’s own age referring to him as a baby (No in a mean way; they just think he is younger due to the lack of words being spoken, shyness, and stature). I realize that many of the reasons someone might think my son is younger than his age have to do with his size and tongue thrust, etc, I do think speech delays can cause other kids to think they are younger than their age.

That is all I have for now, although I’m sure I will run into some other thoughts on the topic as my child starts at a center and is around other kids and families. Parents of kids with speech delays (or teachers and therapists), what kinds of dos and don’ts would you suggest when interacting with kids who have speech delays? Adults with speech delays? Please comment on the blog so others can learn from that as they read.

Thank you! Coming soon, hopefully some info on how Ethan does with the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). He started this in speech therapy and will have some at home. My thought is they will want to continue it at the center to help teachers understand him and encourage more verbalization. He is really on a roll with talking and we are so proud! I was told that the pictures are helpful in group care/school (trying to understand the signs and words of all the children is probably challenging). It sounds like a lot of kids have had quick progress in speaking when PECS was introduced to them. If you have any success stories with PECS, feel free to comment and share what you know as well!