10 February 2010


Even though Cathal may not be doing that well on the gross motor side of things, his speech and communication in general are coming on leaps and bounds. We could not be happier with him. He is babbling away, he has lots of conversations that we can't understand and he tries to talk to other children (not to adults.....what he has to say is a big secret and is on a needs to know basis, grown ups don't need to know). The reason that we can't understand half of what he is saying, is because we are pretty sure he is babbling in Russian. The variety of sounds he is able to produce is incrediable.

Apart from babbling, he is imitating a huge amount. He can say "READY, STEADY, GO!", although, when it comes out of his mouth it usually sounds like "eeeddy, deeeddd, OUOUOUOU!". But he has the intonation and an approximation of the words, and that is the first step. He dosen't have any clear words yet, but we are getting close.
Over the last three months, using a check list that Downs Ed have published (Vocabulary Checklists and Record Sheets: Checklist 1- First 120 words), I have realised that Cathal understands about 120 words (not all of them published on the checklist, but extra ones I've had to add), he can understand and sign 70 words, he immitates 30 words and he can spontaneously say 28 words (we are usually the only ones that understand). He still cannot say any words clearly enough for others to understand. But according to Downs Ed, on average, a child with downs syndrome will be able to learn to understand and sign or say 100 words. I think we are doing pretty well here, and I have to say, when I first ran through the check list and totted up the numbers three months ago, I was very surprised as to how much Cathal actually understood. I'm very proud of my little boy.

A few things have focused us in his speech. The first was something I read very early on in his life, from various sources. Talk, Talk, Talk.....talk about everything to your baby, describe what you are doing, what they are doing, what is around them....keep chatting. Not an easy task for me, I have to say, I tend to be more direct in my language, I get to the point quickly, and once it's said, that's it. I would be "quiet" in nature. I have learned to keep talking to Cathal though, and I hope it shows.

Speech and Language therapy is also hugely important, if only to give the parent ideas and focus. Unfortunatly, there is a huge lack of S&L therapists in this country, and not every child gets what they need. We've been lucky to be able to avail of it through Cathal's services and therapy has paid off for us.

Reading a lot! We keep a stack of books by the side of the bed, and usually while I am getting ready to get up, the Dad is reading books to Cathal in our bed. We read him a bed time story every night as part of his bed time routine (at the moment, the favourites are Where the Wild Things Are, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Aliens Love Underpants). We label pictures, ask him to point to different characters and objects. We animate the story by screaming along with the Wild Things, or dancing around excited when the Aliens find underpants. This all helps to build understanding and it makes talking and reading a lot of fun.

Recently, we both also completed the Hanen "It takes Two to Talk" course. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It above all gives the parent the tools in facilitating the child's language development by using a few simple strategies. The one thing that really stuck out for me through the 8 week course, was how I don't give Cathal enough time to respond. Now, I count to 10, and it works. We both saw a huge leap in his communication very soon after we started the course, maybe because we knew what to look for in him.

Lamh has been another invaluable tool. He is signing more and more all the time. Especially now that we have the Lamh a song DVD. He watches it about 3-4 times a week, he knows all the songs by heart, he signs his own version of the words, and for weeks I end up staring blankly at him while he pats his tummy. I had to sit down with him to watch the entire DVD to figure out that he was signing "animal" completely incorrectly!!! When he pats his tummy now, I know he wants to sing Old Mac Donald...

So he might not be able to stand up, but he can chat till the cows come home!

A little taste of Cathal signing and singing along to his favourite DVD


Mel said...

Well, that couldn't have been any cuter! He is all grown up all of a sudden! I love his signing and singing, and especially how he anticipates what is coming next. Great job Cathal! We were at therapy today, and Luke loves music and sign time. Cathal would fit right in :)Fancy coming to NZ for a little music time?

Ria said...

wow! He is doing so well with imitation. It's so interesting to see how our kids develop. I've learned (with Matthew) that when he is taking off with gross motor, another area like fine motor (for example) kind of slows down. It's not because he stops learning. It's because he's focusing all his energy and brain power learning what interests him during that period in time.
So anyway, way to go Cathal!!
Also, thanks for sharing that link to the Downs Ed checklists. Unfortunately, the US checklists are curently unavailable. Hopefully they'll restock soon.

Anonymous said...

gaétan adore la vidéo de cathal. il essaye de chanter avec lui et réclame de revoir le film. Il l'a vu 10 fois de suite l'autre jour... et il réclame "cathal" en indiquant mon ordinateur quand il est allumé. et il a raison car cathal est superbe : il grnadit et fait de beaux progrès.
Milles bisous
dom and co

Mel said...

I have just completed the Hanen course too, and am having to ask fewer questions and repeat repeat repeat, but it is working! Luke has always had a lot to say though ;)