Speech Therapy Drop-Out Has Explosion of Language

How is that for a headline? It may not make national news, but it’s BIG news around here!

A few months ago, we made the decision to pull Matthew out of speech therapy.  There weren’t any major problems … just no progress.  Matthew shut-down in therapy, stubbornly refusing to talk or follow directions.  In fact, the only sound he made would be to put his finger to his lips and make his best “shhhhh!” sound, to shush his therapist.

The poor thing.  (the therapist, I mean.)  She worked so hard to win him over.  She is a sweet, young, energetic and positive teacher, and we could tell she was working extra-hard with Matthew, doing research on new techniques to try, bringing out all of his favorite things … but it just wasn’t working.  He would sign … a little bit … “all done.”  “bye-bye.”

His therapist and we agreed that giving him a break might be good.  We were hearing new words at home.  It was slow, but steady progress.  We agreed to keep in touch, and re-visit therapy when Matthew was a little more … ahem … how do we say this? … able to understand the teacher/student relationship?  He is only 3 years old, and has a stubborn streak a mile wide.

A couple months ago, we were getting ready to leave my parent’s house.  The boys were loaded in the van, and before the door closed, a little voice said, “Bye-Bye Bam-Pa!”  I was absolutely shocked, as I’d never heard that many syllables come from my little Matthew.  Grandpa was pretty pleased to be the recipient, too.

. . .

Skip ahead to the last month or so …

Matthew is saying SO MANY THINGS.  We can’t believe our ears as we hear sound after sound coming from our not-so-silent-anymore little boy.

After dinner, Matthew often requests to cleaned up in the bath tub instead of the ol’ washcloth routine.  When he’s done eating, he pushes himself back from the table, signs “all done,” then signs “bath.”

However, recently he pushed himself back, and SAID, “Bu-bble Ba-TH!”  Then, giggled uncontrollably with pride for his accomplishment.  You better believe he got lots of bubbles that night!  (Those of you who sign with your kids realize the mixed-blessing of signing things like “bath,” or “please,” when your kid’s hands are covered in applesauce or yogurt.)

He has also started to say animal names as well as sounds, letters of the alphabet as I sign them, and will point to his name on his wall and correctly identify the letters.  Like I said, it’s big news around here!

You know who else he’ll talk for?  Yes … Rachel Coleman.  We hear more words from him while he’s watching a “Signing Time” DVD than any other time.  And, as she says in one of her songs,

“Sometimes I think you’re stuck for such a long time.  Days and days go by with nothing new.  With lists of things you’ll never do … until one day you do!  And, you do!  You do.  You shine.

… And Matthew will do what Matthew will do when Matthew is ready to do it.

And he’ll do it in his own time.”

(O.k. … she doesn’t actually use his name, but I think she should have.)

Jesse’s 2nd Tear Duct Procedure

Jesse had a second procedure to clear his clogged tear duct this morning.  It went very well, and Jesse was back to his happy, active self very quickly.  His procedure was at 8:00, and he was playing outside enjoying the sunshine by 10:00.

An oculoplastic surgeon from Seattle comes to Walla Walla twice a year, so it saves us from having to travel to have these procedures done.  This probing was a little more invasive than the last one, with a little more manipulation of the duct.  The surgeon is optimistic that this will solve the problem, and he won’t need further intervention.  We’ll know in a couple days after the swelling goes down if the procedure worked.

If I’m counting correctly, this was the 7th time in the past 3 years that one of our children was under anesthesia.  Thanks to all who keep our family in their prayers … we need it!

(#1: Matthew’s hernia surgery. #2: Matthew’s open heart surgery.  #3: Matthew’s tonsils/tubes.  #4: Jesse’s 1st tear duct probe  #5: Jesse’s tubes  #6: Matthew’s sedated hearing test  #7: Jesse’s 2nd tear duct probe.)

Baby Edward

My nephew, Edward Josiah was born on Friday, weighing 5lbs, 10oz.  He breathed on his own right away, but still has a long road ahead of him with a lot of challenges to face.

Out of respect for his family’s privacy, I can’t share more.  However, I wanted to sincerely thank you all for your prayers for Edward, and ask that you continue to keep him and his family in your prayers.

Urgent Prayer Request

UPDATE:  Because the NICU at Children’s Hospital is full, Janessa will not be induced tonight.  They will let her know on a daily basis if there is any room in the NICU, and when there is a place for Edward, she will be induced.

. . .

My husband’s brother, Adam, and his wife, Janessa, are going to have a baby tomorrow.  They are going into the hospital tonight to begin induction of labor.

They have known for awhile that their baby boy, Edward, will have some unique challenges to overcome, as he was diagnosed with arthrogryposis (severe contractures of his arms and legs) at their 20-week ultrasound.

However, more recent tests have shown that his difficulties will be more severe than they originally thought.  Swelling of his face and neck, deformities of his jaw and chest may cause severe breathing difficulties.

Please pray for our nephew today.  And, please pray for his parents, too.  They may have some difficult decisions to make, and are asking for guidance, clarity, and peace throughout this difficult journey.

If you like Signing Time… I mean, REALLY like Signing Time…

There are very few celebrities we’d be willing to drive 4 hours to see perform in concert.

The woman pictured below might be the only one, actually!

"...and when I use my magic words, my friends know that I'm NICE."

That’s right!

On Saturday, we saw Rachel Coleman, performing Signing Time LIVE in Portland, OR! 

(How jealous are YOU?)

My best friend from college (and room-mate of 2 years), Theresa, and her adorable daughter met us in Portland and joined us for the show.  T. was an early-childhood special education major.

(No, God didn’t give me anything to help me prepare for my role as Matthew’s mother.  Nope.  Nothing at all.)

The show started at 1:30 in the afternoon.  Someone next to us pondered whether it was really a sociology experiment titled, “What happens when 200 toddlers simultaneously miss nap-time?”  Luckily, we had been able to get M & J both down for a morning rest, AND Bubbi and Papa came along for extra help!

Matthew was fascinated.  And, absolutely thrilled to pieces.

Micah really enjoyed the show, too.  It didn’t take him long at all to look through the display of DVDs for sale and pick out the five that we don’t already own (not counting the “Baby Signing Time” series).  I only bought 2 … but Matthew clung to those 2 videos throughout most of the show!

(And, now that he’s watched “Helping Out Around the House,” he signed “Do the dishes,” and said “jish-esh” as I was cleaning up breakfast this morning.)

"Do you feel EXCITED? I'm so EXCITED!"


"These are the pets I LOVE."

After the show, we got to meet Rachel.  Micah gave her a big hug and said, “Thank you for helping Matthew learn signs so he can talk to us better.”  I love that kid!

Jesse was at the end of his rope by that time, but we managed to snap a couple pictures anyway.  I was even able to say, “thank you,” and tell her that she had really helped to give Matthew his “wings.”  I was even able to quickly tell her that she was able to comfort Matthew when he was in the hospital or having surgery and nothing else could comfort him.

I can’t say enough good things about the Signing Time series.  The videos are fantastic, and have literally given Matthew the gift of communication.  We had NO idea, when we started this journey with our sweet son, that we would all be learning sign language … or that it would be so much fun!

My first recommendations to parents that contact me with a new diagnosis of Down syndrome are these:  #1: Pray.  Pray a lot, and pray often.  #2: Start learning and using sign language … and do it using Signing Time.  It’s the best.  Don’t bother with the “Baby Einstien” signing videos etc … they’re no good.

For our Matthew, sign language has been incredible.  He can tell us so many things that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to express.  He can let us know what he’s thinking inside that adorable blonde head of his.  And, because he can communicate and interact using sign, other people communicate and interact more with him.

We lost count after Matthew reached 150+ signs.  And, the more he signs, the more he says.  He’ll verbally say more words while watching Signing Time than he did during any of his Speech Therapy sessions.  He’s starting to talk.  Sign language hasn’t delayed his speech, as some worry it will – if anything, it has helped him achieve the skill.

It’s the little things – that aren’t so little when you have a child with special needs and speech delays … like when he sees the “3 FT” sign by the swimming pool at the hotel, and says “eeee! eh-f!”  It’s those things that make this mother’s heart soar.

It has truly been amazing to see how much he can say.  Also, it has been amazing to see little Jesse picking up the signs and using them.  Jesse is saying a few things … a lot of babbling sounds … but will say ma-ma, da-da, pa-pa, etc.  But, he was able to tell Grandpa about the helicopter we saw by signing “helicopter,” and saying “vmmm-vmmm!”  There’s no way he can say “helicopter,” but he can sure sign it!

Yes … we’re big fans.  Really big fans!  Especially Matthew … it’s not hard to tell what his favorite thing is … since he can communicate it quite well using sign as he says “Gieng-gime.”