Thursday, May 24, 2012

Construction Zones

I took a bit of a break from writing, these last few months.  I miss it.  I miss you, my readers, and appreciate all of you, including those who still check in, from time to time, to see if I have posted anything new.  Today, I want to share a bit of Alyssa's success with you.  As always, she continues to make us the most proud parents.  She is amazing.

Alyssa communicates very well, but often, more through gestures, than words.  I have this feeling, when you talk to her, she takes it all in, but when she wants to reply, her mind gets stuck in a construction zone filled with detours and flagmen.  I personally can say, I take my communication for granted.  It's easy for me.  My mind is going a mile a minute, without the littlest delay, not even a speed bump.  We have tried many techniques to bring forward Alyssa's communication.  We model the language for her, by having her look at our mouths, as we pronounce each syllable.  We use a dry erase board to write down what we think she wants to say, giving her the language, and we have a "new" technique; I will get to in a minute.

Interestingly, the dry erase board has been a strong point of success for us.  Alyssa will come to me, lead me to the kitchen cabinet and throw my hand towards a food item she wants.  Her favorite food items are spread around the kitchen, so we know what she is going for.  If she leads me to the cabinet by the fridge, she wants crackers.  The cabinet by the door has raisins.  The refrigerator drawer has cheese.  I am sure you get the picture!  Alyssa will lead me to what she is seeking and throw my hand towards the item.  I grab the dry erase and write, "I want crackers".  I put my pointer finger on each word and model the sentence for her 3 to 4 times.  Then, I put her pointer finger on the "I" and tell her it's her turn.  She will then say, "I want crackers".  This can feel like a lot of effort, to get to the language that is, but it's worth it.  We can see, she has the language, she just needs a sign on the road to exit and avoid the construction zone ahead, where the language is lost.  We go through several of these efforts every day.  The other cool thing about the dry erase board, it teaches Alyssa to recognize words, in print.  Yes!!  She has sight words and is showing evidence of reading.  All of this is very exciting.  We find encouragement and strength from her successes.  It's truly awesome.

On to her newest communication technique...  Recently, I noticed Alyssa sounding out words into her hand.  She has her hand wrapped into a fist, like a microphone.  She will make sounds to words and feel the sounds and vibrations on her skin.  One day, I thought I would use my hand as a microphone.  I said something into my microphone, then placed my fist in front of her mouth.  She said what I said.  Wow!  So, I said something else, presented the hand off of the microphone and there were her words, just as quick as could be and clear as day.  Wow!  I like this new game, so I try a few more times and what happens.... she says everything I say.  It is hard for me to express the level of my excitement, without coming out of my chair and dancing about.  This is fabulous.  Maybe, just maybe, this will help her start accessing her language more freely.  I am jumping up and down in my boots and so proud of her newest accomplishment.  Woohoo.  Go Alyssa.  Is this her exit from that construction zone?  

By Alyssa having access to her words more freely, I can see her engaging in her peer group more and more.  You can see her excitement, she's beaming.  To see the enthusiasm in her own successes fills our hearts with joy.  I feel like all the work we have done, for her to be included in a general ed classroom, has been the absolute RIGHT choice.  She loves school and her classmates.  She has self worth.  She has friends.  She is learning!  All wonderful things, leading her down a path, a future, of possibilities. 

Sometimes, the simplest things, and ideas, lead us to breakthrough successes.  My hat is off to Alyssa as she continues to exhibit her abilities.  Alyssa continues to inspire us with her knowledge, gift of love, curiosity, efforts, and everything else that makes her who she is.  She is the light of our life!

Thank you for reading and have a great week.  Angie