Monday, October 31, 2016

Early Intervention - Speech Update!

Like many other parents, I struggle with the balance of wanting to do things that make my kids happy, but also giving them limits. I love to see their faces light up when I give them munchkins in the drive through, or a kit kat bar for dessert (that never happens), but at the same time, I don't want to spoil them or promote activities, actions, or behaviors if they aren't helping them. For example, this is a minor one, but the boys love holding on to small objects like coins or dice - and they get really upset when I take them away. I try to minimize their time with them because I know it isn't really doing anything for them. Yet - it isn't hurting them either....so is it a real issue? I guess I could say that I am picking my battles here.

See their hands? Full of small objects! At least they've never put anything in their mouths. I lucked out with that one.


And lollipops at the parade! :)


They are very good listeners. I say, "one hand on the car" when I take Cal out of his car seat and throw him in my wrap. They stand there and listen really well.


They were excited for halloween. :)


Caden and Mommy.


Conor and Mommy.

Cal and Mommy.


Speaking of Cal, Conor and Caden are both warming up to him more so now than ever before. Before, they didn't want to hold him, talk to him, or go near him. Then they started giving me a bottle or blanket for him. And now they are approaching him more and giving him things. It's nice to see!




All three of them down the Cape over the weekend. They did really well. It's a nice change of scenery and fresh new toys. Who wouldn't love that?


And all three at home...

Now that I've provided an update on all things Con/Cay/Cal, here is an Early Intervention and IFSP update. We are now a full year into the program and receiving services both at home and going to the play groups that they offer. Since I am home with them, I am able to go to the play groups there and they're great. Age appropriate, other kids there their own age, and very structured. All of this is setting them up for preschool in a few months.

My mom has been instrumental in the EI play groups. She either goes with us and helps me with Cal and the boys, or I drop Cal off at her house for an hour or two while we go to the playgroup together.




IFSP:

Last week, we went over the boys new IFSPs (individual family service plans) with Early Intervention after having their re-evaluations. The re-eval is just like their original eval they had last year when we first started the whole EI Process. Each year, until they turn 3, they have to have these re-evaluations to see where they are at and where they could use some help. As I was researching things a bit, I thought this excerpt from their website was helpful,
"Early intervention focuses on helping eligible babies and toddlers learn the basic and brand-new skills that typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:
  • physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking);
  • cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);
  • communication (talking, listening, understanding);
  • social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); and
  • self-help (eating, dressing)"
SCORES and GOALS:

After receiving their scores from the categories above, we then discussed with our service coordinator and team members on the case, like their speech pathologist Genevieve, and their Music Therapist, Christina. We discussed speech goals we would like to achieve, as well as what strategies and techniques may help us reach those goals. We also briefly touched on their goals from just 6 months ago, in April, when our new speech therapist joined our case. I remember we had simple goals for the boys like "mama" and "up" and "go". I remember doing "ready, set, _____" forever with Caden. When he finally said "go" I teared up. There have been tons of other fun moments during this whole speech and early intervention process. I am really proud of them, especially during their re evaluations. I loved watching them think and problem solve through the various "tests" they were given during the evals.

STRATEGIES and TECHNIQUES:

Some techniques that we have been using over these last 6 months that I have enjoyed are listed below.
1.) Food boards and visuals. I find age 2 to be difficult because they know what they want, but they can't articulate or tell me. Therefore, I started using food boards and photos on my iPhone to tell them what we are going to eat - or what options they may have. I use the pictures on my phone for activities like to show them a pic of my parents house and say "we're going to papas house", right before we get int he car and go there. But personally, I know if I say "Papa's house", they get excited and know we're going to his house.
2.) Explanations. I also have been explaining things in detail more. For example, I don't just give them their plates for meals anymore. I give them their dishes, I sit them down, and I point to each object and tell them what they are going to eat. For example, I will say "peanut butter sandwich" and "macaroni and cheese" instead of them guessing what's in the sandwich or what sauce is on the pasta. All trying to be more verbal and more clear.
3. Transitions. Ugh, transitions are a four letter word to me. They are really hard for us. So we are really focusing on warnings and giving them a head start on the next activity. Similar to the
explanations above, we are really focusing on explaining things from the moment they get up. Like if they have a doctor appointment that day, or we're going to visit my parents, or just doing something fun. I try to give them information early, and often. For example, we say "we are going to get dressed and then we are going to go in the car". And I will give a reminder a few minutes after that, and then again right before we go in the car. Along those same lines, we do warnings a lot too. For example, we say "two more minutes and we are going to go back inside" or "two more minutes and we will clean up and get ready for bed". That one is HUGELY helpful.

Not only have the boys met their goals we set in place back in April, but they each have over 50 or so words (total guess, but they know and say the names of tons of objects). Now we are learning to put several words together like "open door" and "more yogurt" and "up mommy" among other things. We also say random things outloud like "I got it!" and "Mommy, how are youuu?" It's nice to see the progress. Of course we are always working on things, but I am thrilled at how far they've come!

This website is really nice too - it explains what we've done so far in this whole early intervention process with the IFSP and how we went about obtaining services for them. A lot of people reach out to me and ask where to begin, or why I even started the boys in EI. My thought is, the earlier the better and also - it's free, so why not check it out? Free resources are amazing. 


All for now!! Happy Halloween!

xo,
Shaz