Today was our first home visit from our speech & language therapist. I wasn’t expecting much from them. We’ve had very little support from them, which I think is surprising seeing as Freddie has feeding issues & is very delayed in his speech. We are still relying alot on tube feeding & Freddie is still yet to babble & his understanding of language is very low.
I recently spoke to some friends about how i’m struggling to find ways of engaging with Freddie. Due to his delays he doesn’t play with toys as a 23 month old would, he doesn’t even play with toys like a baby would. He struggles with his lack of hand function which stops him picking up and playing with toys & with his understanding of the world being so low he seems to not understand what to do with toys. I was getting a bit desperate to find something to help Freddie learn & develop.
I was actually quite surprised at how well the session went & I found it very helpful.
The activity we were going to do is meant to be a group activity but as I am unable to get to any of the Speech & language support groups they have adapted the game just for Freddie to play at home.
It starts of with a little song to try & give Freddie a clue that we are about to start playing.
“Its time for us to play
Its time for us to play
Ee ii adeo
Its time for us to play”
We started off with a big, red box of toys. A bell, a few squishy, touchy, feely toys, 2 books, a little crab that vibrates when you pull the string, a spinning top, a fan, a pop up clown and a squishy ball. The speech & language therapist showed Freddie all the toys & tried to gain an understanding of what ones he liked & which he didn’t, not an easy job when he doesn’t speak.
5 toys were then placed into a bag & we started to play a game with Freddie. It started by singing a song. The song includes two Makaton signs, in time it would be nice to teach Freddie Makaton and allow it to be his way of communicating but for now it has been agreed that it’s too much for Freddie as his hand control wouldn’t allow him to do the signs. But him being able to see the signs may help him to realise what i’m saying to him.
“What is in the bag
What is in the bag
Lets take a look & see
What is in the bag”
The idea behind the game is that Freddie puts his hand into the bag & pulls a toy out & he gets to explore it. Due to Freddies limited hand function he wasn’t able to do this so instead we picked one out for him & let him have a feel of it. The aim is to try & get Freddie to communicate what he wants us to do with the toy. For example if he wants the spinning top to be spinned for him he needs to communicate that to us via eye contact, making a noise or hitting the toy. Then the song starts again & continues until all the toys have been looked at.
The next activity is a movement singing game such as row row row the boat or round & round the garden. The idea behind this game is to stop singing at a certain point & see if Freddie can preempt what is coming next. For example when doing round & round the garden once you have sang 1 step 2 step give a big pause before you do the tickle to allow Freddie to try & understand what is coming next.
The main aim of these games is to allows us to try & understand what Freddie wants & when he wants it. In the past i’ve always been able understand Freddies cries & give him what he needs but the older he gets the less & less I understand him. Picking up little clues from games like this could go along way in making life easier for both me & Freddie. Understanding what a little bit of eye contact means or what that particular noise means could go along way in allowing us to communicate. It might not be the form of communication I want as a parent, it’s no “mummy I want this please” but it’s a different way of communicating, unique to Freddie.