This week we starting to learn sign along. So, you may, hopefully, have read an earlier post of mine that goes through the fact that currently, my son is non-verbal. He has said the odd word in the past, we could probably count them on one hand, so we are always looking to work with different communication skills to try and work towards him being able to tell us what he wants.
What have we done for communication
So, up until this point we have tried a few things. We do, always, talk to him with the hope that he will pick up new words or just start to talk. We have worked on communication skills through the last few years, since his diagnosis, to try and find what works.
We started with the now and next board, something we still use today. This is really about communicating to him what is going to happen. We show him visually as well as tell him what is going to happen now and what is going to happen next.
From there we went to the card exchange; I believe we referred to it as a magic card or something similar. Basically, the idea was to get little Mr. to exchange the card for anything he wanted. Not the best form of communication as it didn’t reflect what he wanted, but was about the communication to us and getting that started.
From there we moved up to PECS. We started with the simple principle of single card exchange. We picked something such as food to exchange or a toy he liked. With food, he would have to pick up the card and exchange it for a bit of biscuit, mango or whatever food. With the toy, we would play it for short period, stop it and then he would have to exchange.
The idea is, he picks the card for the item he would like. He would bring it to us to exchange for the item on that card. He never really picked it up too well, was only at the beginning. He prefers to come and grab us and take us to the item he wants.
That works but is limited to the things we have around us at that time, or in the place that we are.
Along comes sign along
So, when he started his school; they do free sign along courses; at least free for the parents of those going to the school. This is just the basic start level; though after our first class – there are 3 x 1.5-hour sessions; basic is not that basic or easy.
Starting with the alphabet there are 26 signs straight away. Then for this first session, we learn around 40-50 words (I didn’t count them all but were somewhere in that region). Its also amazing that some things, such as M and Mom or F and Dad/Father, are the same sign but done slightly different – so mom would be to tap the M a couple of times, same as dad.
This is just week one of three. Already though I can see it being of use. I’m not sure if our son will take to it. I’m not sure if he will pick it up, I’m sure they use it in his school. However, because some of the signs are very self-explanatory, it’s certainly useful to sign that alongside saying the word.
So, after session one I can say I am happy and impressed. I will say that if you have the opportunity to get on a course – do so. As we go through the next few weeks of our starting to learn sign along course, I will update posts. Then by the end of it, hopefully, you will know if its for you. For now, we’ve learned enough basics for eating, drinking, bed and toilet time as well as a number of other things. Perfect for what we needed now.
I recently came across the following quote
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
― Maya Angelou
This is my new goal in life. Not to conform to be normal, but to be amazing and I hope to inspire you to be amazing too.