Reinforcing the signs while ‘scaffolding’ the verbal

Lily has been labelled as having a ‘severe delay’.  I know it’s true, and have for some time, but it was still a little bit upsetting to read.  I’ve heard so many stories of kids speaking in full sentences at 2 or 3 years old when they hadn’t said a word prior.  I suppose I’d been holding onto the hope that one morning she was going to wake up and decide to use all the words she’d been holding onto for so long.  With her big proud smile and twinkling eyes she’d look at me and say “Good mornin’ mom.  Can you get me a cup of milk please?”

This week our homework was “Focused Stimulation”.  We chose 5 words and corresponding activities that would provide us the opportunity to use these words repeatedly and in an exaggerated manner.  We picked milk, more, up, baby, and sleep.  

During our first meeting with Sarah, Lily was laying across my legs and I was holding her hands.  While I answered Sarah’s questions I pulled Lily up to face me and then blew on her neck.  She would smile, shake her head and then lay back down for more.  Sarah suggested that this would be a perfect way to work on ‘up’.  Let Lily lie there a bit longer while repeating and exaggerating the word.  “You want up?  Up?  Up?  Up?”.  We’ve been playing that game ever since.  Lily now says ‘up’ fairly consistently and appropriately uses the word not just when she wants to be picked up but also when she’s jumping or lifting something. 

Another thing my husband and I have really been working on is delaying her gratification.  Lily, although not speaking, is quite a loud child and is prone to serious outbreaks of drama-queenitis (self diagnosed).   When she asks for milk through sign we pretty immediately get the milk to avoid the aforementioned tantrum.  Now, with focused stimulation, we use this as an opportunity to ‘scaffold’ and repeat and exaggerate the word ‘milk’ while trying our best not to  push her to the point of frustration.  “You want some milk?  Milk.  Milk.  Mmmmmmmilk.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Milk.”

Lily’s verbal words, clearly said and understood, are now:  mommy, dad, up (or ‘up-eeee’ if you’re not quick enough!) and hi.  Her signing vocabulary has also grown and her new favorite signs are ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’.  Both of which are coming in quite handy with diaper changes and starting to potty train. 

I’ve recently started using more emotion signs with Lily as well.  I’m hoping that by using signs like happy, sad, mad, and frustrated she will begin to tell us how she’s feeling and no longer feel the need to throw her forearm over her eyes and wail just before falling to the ground in a heap.  We are desperately seeking a cure for her drama-queenitis before the teenage years.


Filed under Baby Signing

2 responses to “Reinforcing the signs while ‘scaffolding’ the verbal

  1. Amy

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you’ve got a talent for writing, Kathy! And I’m so excited to hear that Lily is starting to speak up! Literally 😉

    We seem to be on par as far as signing goes. Georgia really likes drilling me on the emotional signs right now, and we’ve even made some up of our own: the Fonz says, “AYYYY” (two thumbs up).

  2. Here’s a hug! I’m sorry your dream for a surprise early morning conversation isn’t looking likely.

    You are doing great as a mom! You’re teaching your daughter two languages and giving her the help she needs. And you have your own business! Amazing.

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