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Nathaniel's First Words

Submitted by kim on Fri, 04/04/2014 - 22:19 in Augmented Communication, Nathaniel's Story

Nathaniel's first word was BATH. He said it with his hands a few weeks ago.

It happened like this:

While I have been talking to therapists and reading, Rich has been quietly doing his own thing. Consistently. For months. He undresses Nathaniel, signs "bath," and says, "Let's go take your bath!" One afternoon Rich and I were talking about the bedtime routine and decided we were under a bit of a time crunch and would skip Nathaniel's bath. After dinner Rich took Nathaniel into the nursery like normal and started to undress him. As soon as his shirt was off, Nathaniel signed BATH.

We made time for a bath!

I mentioned in a recent post that sign language has not been our primary focus. Not because we were opposed, but there was never consensus with the therapists on a direction.

Nathaniel's occupational therapist and I decided a few months ago to use the sign for ALL DONE to end play sessions and meals.

MORE was the sign I had an interest in using right away because it is a powerful word and can work in so many different settings for a little child. MORE food. MORE tickling. MORE singing. MORE iPad game. But I received multiple opinions from therapists. One felt strongly that MORE was too confusing. Does the child want MORE drink or MORE stickers? MORE play or MORE candy? Having multiple voices chime in on how to handle every single word can be frustrating. I recently started demonstrating the sign MORE to Nathaniel despite the theories and opinions. I am confident we will build up to two word utterances which will solve confusion. While he is developmentally at one word utterances - MORE is useful.

Thankfully, our new speech therapist sees sign language as a piece to this puzzle. Even the word MORE. Nathaniel is going to need a multi modal approach to augmented communication. We are not giving up on using his iPad, but he can not take the device into the bathtub or have it at his high chair when eating finger foods or at his table when doing messy play. Because of his age and developmental stage, sign language will serve a purpose for a season at least.

He has continued to sign BATH on a consistent basis. It is always within the context of Rich going through the evening routine, but it seems like he gets it.

Second word: This week I was playing a silly game of repeatedly dipping him down off my lap while making funny noises. One time when I stopped, he signed MORE. I had not said or signed the word MORE, so it was awesome that he offered it unsolicited.

Nathaniel shared two new words on Thursday afternoon. I decided on Monday that Nathaniel and I will go outside everyday from April 1st through November 1st regardless of weather. It has rained every day since I made that decision. On Thursday there was thunder in the distance as we sat under the covered patio cuddled in a blanket and listening to spring. After one particular loud clap of thunder, Nathaniel signed ALL DONE. I asked, "Are you all done being outside?" He smiled and signed ALL DONE again.

His second word on Thursday was DOG. Frequently while I am busy in the kitchen, Nathaniel stands on one side of the gate and our dog stands on the other. I have been signing DOG for over a month. After we came inside, I started dinner and Nathaniel crawled to the gate. The dog was not there. Using his right hand, Nathaniel hit his thigh twice. He waited a minute or two and did it again as if to call his friend.

First words: BATH. MORE. ALL DONE. DOG.