Of all the challenges that we are faced with due to BC’s cerebral palsy, the one which has taken me most by surprise is the speech issues. I have mentioned this before. I just had confidence that given he left hospital fully breastfed and never really had feeding issues, that he had good oral motor control. I was wrong.
If I had done my research into ‘Athetoid cerebral palsy’ (which is what BC has) I would not have been so surprised. Speech issues are synonymous with this kind of CP.
Speech therapy takes up a good part of our time. We are INCREDIBLY lucky to have an amazing speech therapist and this year we’ve doubled our sessions so we have 3 a fortnight. We also have a lot of ‘mini sessions’ at home, with the skills that I’ve learnt from watching the therapist, who uses a variety of techniques to help BC communicate, including using ‘PODD’ (Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display) communication books, Makaton signing and a technique called ‘Prompt’ (PROMPTs for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) which is being incredibly beneficial in helping him articulate specific sound. And in the coming months, BC will be receiving a ‘Voice Output Device‘.
So it could never be said we are not doing enough to help BC faciliate communication.
And the most important thing is, he LOVES all the therapy. He LOVES his ‘talking lessons’ and he (naturally, for a four year old!) LOVES to communicate.
It’s a LONG SLOW road, but I am so glad we’ve started early. The benefits from this very specialised therapy are slowly but surely being revealed.
Which brings me to the point of this post. BC has been very good for a long time using whatever method is most convenient to convey what he WANTS, what he LIKES and what he doesn’t WANT or LIKE. More recently he’s done great when I have elicited information from him (eg ‘Where are we going?’, ‘Whose ball is this?’ etc). It’s all great. However, it’s not quite a conversation and he has NEVER asked a question.
Out of the blue, as we were walking back from the park, he pointed to the nearby TAFE school and asked, quite clearly – ‘What’s that?’. I nearly cried. I still haven’t stopped doing that when he does amazing things .
So I told him. And he was fascinated. It’s like all of a sudden a huge light switched on. And now he’s trying to catch up asking all the questions he’s been curious about for ages but never thought to ask about.
In the last 24 hours, the questions have been nonstop -
‘What’s that?’, ‘Who’s that?’ (eg on the phone), ‘Where’s Dad?’ I could go on and on.
I’m exhausted from answering questions, but TOTALLY exhilarated.
It’s a conversation I’ve been waiting for for a very long time .