Having a child with special needs often means being creative in how we get things done. Although I have 4 children older than Monkey, my parenting style with her is not the same. The things we took for granted with the older kids are now different with her.
With Monkey our initial focus was with ESD (Expressive Speech Disorder) but were then introduced to the world of SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) as a secondary need. This means that not only can she not communicate everything with us… but some of her sensory needs become a challenge as well. She simply cannot tell us what sensory she is seeking all the time. Therefore, keeping toys and other items on hand for her help ensure we make therapy fun.
Since she is incredibly independent, we can show her new products we find to help her fulfill her needs and then watch her explore them. In hindsight, I can see that she has always done this. As a baby she often rolled everywhere instead of crawling. It was as if, even then, she knew she wanted that deep tissue sensory and knew just how to get it: by rolling. Now that she is 3, she still knows what she needs and finds ways to fulfill it on her own.
I remember the day we began to realize Monkey had sensory needs. Her Speech Therapist asked if she often chewed on her toothbrush. Yes. Does she have an automatic toothbrush? Yes. She carries it around often. Little did we know, not only was she getting the oral sensory she needed… but the vibration was helping her in other areas.
That is why we wanted to see if she would like the Vibe Critters from Super Duper Publications. To say they were a hit with her would be an understatement. She loved them! The soft, durable plastic with a bumpy texture fit perfectly in her small hands. Once we turned it on, she would just laugh at the vibrating sensation she received through them. Not only was she able to work on improving her sensory perception, she was also able to find a sense of calm by holding them. Discovering new ways to calm her is constantly a huge step for us and we were thrilled to find that the Vibe Critters had that affect on her.
Sensory Diet Game
Teaching our other children to understand Monkey’s needs is also a hurdle we face. Our teens are able to better comprehend, but our middle two girls do not always understand it all. For that reason, we wanted the Sensory Diet Game in order to help Monkey, as well as the girls. By playing the game with her, the girls are able to get a better sense of her sensory needs.
Although Monkey did not quite get the game concept upon playing it the first time, the girls did and played for quite a while. Not only did they learn about how they react in different situations, but they better understood how Monkey could feel. I believe it actually helped give the girls a better sense of empathy for their sister and they are more involved with helping her work on those areas. The fact that the help can come in the form of the Sensory Diet Game is simply a bonus for them!
Getting Monkey to communicate with us is going to be our biggest triumph. She has already made such big strides in the last 8 months, but we still have a long way to go. Therefore, every little bit we can do for her helps. Monkey struggles most with ICD (Initial Consonant Deletion). This means that several of the words in her limited vocabulary do not have a beginning consonant sound. We typically have to break even the smallest word into 2 parts for her. For example: gum is normally pronounced “g-um.” We are trying to get her to say those initial consonant sounds. Repetition in articulation is key in this area. Enter the book Speech Steps.
With Speech Steps, we are able to work on target sounds in parts. First, we can focus on the long vowel sounds, and then move on to simple one syllable words such as pie or leaf. As she learns these initial lessons we can progress further through the book. We are not there yet but I am excited as I read ahead. Knowing that she will be ready for more complex words soon gives me something to look forward to. For now, I am content in hearing her repeat the sounds or word… and watching her trace the letters. She seems to enjoy the tactile learning and tracing letters appears to help her soak up the knowledge found in the book.
We are slowly on the road to understanding all that her sensory needs and communication barriers mean for our family. Although we face a challenge daily in our interactions with her, we know that patience and time will bring us to a point where it all works out in the end. I believe we have all accepted the challenge head on and are excited about the new learning tools we have to help her progress. Now to sit back and watch as her language just takes off and she holds a full conversation with us!
Super Duper Publications
For children who may need a little support when it comes to social skills, reading, math, spelling and critical thinking, a few lessons via a game can have a huge impact. Super Duper is already a hit in many classrooms from public schools to homeschoolers. Toy industry experts have taken notice and awarded Jeeper Peepers eight top honors including the Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award! Now everyone can browse and buy online at www.superduperinc.com.
I even asked both of her therapists about the website and they both said they shop their often… and love their stuff. In fact, the big bag the Speech Therapist carries with here even came from Super Duper Publications.