Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Questions About Reading & Speech

Here are another series of questions.  My responses are in black to make it easier to understand.
I have a few questions. I have been reading your blog for only a short time. You introduced me to so many wonderful resources and responded to my questions on BrillKids forum. If any of my questions are too personal or you don't want to answer, that is okay. I just wanted to ask.

1. What have you done so far that you are so glad you did? Something that made a difference in K. development and progress. 
I think the most beneficial thing that we have done is to have very high expectations. A healthy diet avoiding artificial flavours, colours, processed foods  and other junk is very important as is K's neurodevelopmental program using Glenn Doman's books & later, a program with ICAN.

2. Is there anything that was just a waste of time?
I'm sure their were  some things that were a waste of time, but off the top of my head I can't think of anything too important. Not anything that has made a lasting difference anyways.  Any time spent with your child is teaching them something, so even if we weren't getting the intended benefit, time spent with your child is never wasted.

3. Are you using a program based on something like NACD or other neurodevelopment program? If so, what made you decide to do it and is it worth the time?
Yes, we have been doing a program with ICAN for the last year or so.
4. How long were you working on flashcards before you noticed increased speech and reading skills?
This is a hard question to answer, because K was too young to be verbal when we started.  We did words from about age 6 months on. I have never experienced life with K being able to read but not talk because she learned to read first. As she became verbal, it became more obvious as to how much she was reading.

What I can say, is that the words that she learned through reading were spoken much more clearly than those she learned through hearing us speak.  Even now, she often reads more clearly than she speaks. 
5. You mentioned that K. is reading words at a 4th grade level, do you have an idea of her level of understanding/comprehension?
We have not tested her comprehension, but at risk of underestimating her, I think she is probably at a first grade level.  She is certainly able to follow written instructions well, and can tell me about a story she is reading. Sometimes I wonder if she is even at a 2nd grade level mainly because she enjoys reading that level of story best and seems to follow the story, but it is hard for me to tell. 

I'm sure she is not comprehending at a 4th grade level, but on the other hand, I would not have expected any 4 year old to comprehend at that level.
6. How is she with conversation and interactions with others?

She talks a lot.  The other day on the way home from town, I listened to a 20 minute monologue which in my family was likely only surpassed by K's 9 year old sister who truly taught me how much a little girl can talk:) I give this same big sister lots of credit for teaching K to talk too! K can tell me who she played with at preschool, whether or not she played on the playground, how she got hurt when playing in the gym, etc.  We always make her order for herself in a restaurant & discuss what sides & drink she want etc. It is rare that we have to interpret now.  She asks lots of questions and appreciates thorough answers too. She is always asking about the rest of the family. Where they are, what they are doing.  Of course, she is very good at getting her needs met. She is starting to joke around more, and think its funny to say that her sisters are crazy. Just a quick random example of her speech - Just now she was trying to open a cupboard door and something got caught.  She said.  "Mom, I can't get it.  I need some help please." She likes to talk on the phone and always has something to say!  She seemed to be a little harder to understand on the phone, however, lately I have noticed that she is being understood much more and able to keep the conversation flowing.

As for interactions with others, she has not always been the most social kid as she was pretty shy.  She does like playing with other kids and adults that she knows, but it takes her a while to warm up to strangers. In the last 6 or 8 months however, we have seen huge changes.  Her preschool teachers were just amazed at the difference in her over the summer.  She never wanted me to leave, and now she is so comfortable staying at preschool by herself.  I'm told that she even lets the others know when they are breaking the rules now!  She enjoys the other kids, and always talks about them, but she is also quite happy to play independently at times also.
The reason for some of my questions is that a speech pathologist told us that teaching our daughter to read would not help her be social and have conversations with others, which will be more important for her in the future. But her words seem to be coming more since we started with flashcards and Little Reader type programs and videos. There are so many opinions and resources, but only so much time. I want to maximize our time and use approaches that will help her. Thank you for opening up and allowing our questions.
 I am always amazed at the reasons some professionals have for not teaching reading. How can learning and understanding new words prevent speech?  The more words she understands means more words at her disposal to use during conversations.  I can't imagine how that is detrimental! I would love for your speech therapist to come have a conversation with my daughter. K has had very little speech therapy - 3 sessions in the last 2 years - Yay for government programs! (insert sarcastic smiley here) and to be honest, in the dozen or so sessions she has had in her life, less than 1/2 of them have been productive.  We were fortunate though, to get 3 sessions last spring with a wonderful SLP.  She included reading in many of K's speech activities which was wonderful.

One thing that I think has really helped is that we often try to use common phrases for reading practice.  If you wanted to focus on conversation, then do just that.  Teach her to read things like " Hello, how are you?" or whatever phrases you want to teach.

I always listen to the opinions of K's therapists, however, I have come to rely on my mother's instincts as well as other opinions, research etc, to help make my final decision.  I am realizing that my instincts are rarely wrong. Go with your instincts - if you are noticing more words and your instincts tell you it is helping then go for it!

If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask away and good luck!

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