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Augmented Communication Part 2: Business Cards and Babbling

Submitted by kim on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 10:21 in Augmented Communication, Nathaniel's Story

Thinking back on yesterday's augmented communication appointment, I must have looked like a crazy mom. I hauled in a large bag of stuff that I had made, his toys, the talker that Nathaniel's speech therapist was trying to use, his iPad, copies of research articles I had found, and my go-everywhere-Nathaniel-binder.

This binder has become The Book on Nathaniel. The week he was placed with us a dear friend helped me by organizing all the papers and information that came with him and created this binder. There is a place for our monthly medical supply list, current medicines, therapy, insurance, doctors, business cards, etc. Thank you again and again Katy! Your system goes with me to every doctor and therapy appointment. It sits open on the kitchen counter often.

As we were finishing the appointment I asked about weekly speech. Yes, Nathaniel needs it.

"How do I find a therapist who thinks like you guys?" I asked.

Because I learned more in two hours with these therapists than I had in seven months of weekly speech. They gave me the name of a therapist. I flipped to the back of the binder where I've been collecting business cards and there was the therapist's business card.

I met her back in July. Before I had Nathaniel.

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." Deuteronomy 31:8

It is amazing to watch God's provisional hand over this little boy. I called the therapist when I got home. Things are in motion to try to meet soon.

One other question I asked before the therapy session ended was if they thought it would be acceptable to put pictures of Rich and I on the two button talker with "Daddy" and "Mommy" recorded respectively. My thought was that this would allow Nathaniel to "babble" with the two words every baby repeats endlessly.  They loved the idea.

Here is a video of the first time I offered Nathaniel his "babble box." I have to come to grips with the fact that Nathaniel likes Daddy a lot. Or at least that is who he wanted to talk about today.

I tried to respond as I would to a verbal baby in a high chair babbling "Daddy" repeatedly. After watching this video I realized I need to come up with more to say about Daddy than just "Daddy's at work."

I can watch this video and make some quick assumptions that what is going on here has nothing to do with language but it is just a baby playing with a toy that makes noise. Perhaps Nathaniel favors his left hand and therefore found it easier to hit the Daddy button over the Mommy button. I personally don't think so. Nathaniel is making a concentrated effort to say "Daddy" repeatedly. He crosses midline with his right hand pointed index finger to hit the Daddy button.

After I finished recording this clip, Nathaniel went on to play with his "babble box" for about ten minutes while I unloaded the dishwasher. He continued to favor the Daddy button and I continued to talk intermittently about Daddy sometimes without looking at him. After one long period of my silence Nathaniel hit the "Mommy" button. I immediately turned and looked at him. We both smiled. And I exclaimed exuberantly, "Yes, Mommy heard you call her! Here I am!" He did the same thing a second time after a period of ignoring him.

Did Nathaniel know that if he pushed the Mommy button that he was calling me? Probably not. Is this two button talker with his parent's pictures the best way to let him babble? I don't know. How exactly do we recreate the experience of babbling for a nonverbal baby at a nine month developmental stage? I don't know. But I do know language is learned in context and he will learn language through our responses to his use of language. Letting him babble Daddy and Mommy this way today gave me an opportunity to respond to his "talking." Our language interactions produced excitement, smiles, and joy for both of us. Exactly what language is supposed to do.