Friday, April 29, 2011

We Have A Voice!

Finally! Sort of. And I've been needing to post this for a while. I know I've been silent for ages, and I apologise for that. I still can't seem to get my head around the things I need to say for some reason. Also, my computer is now usually claimed in the evenings by my hard-working hubby, which means I can't blog after the kids are in bed anymore.

Anyway, anyway.... we have a voice!

My little man has finally got the hang of PECS! He has been at it for a few weeks now, so it's well and truly clicked for him :). He is now bringing me pictures of things he wants several times a day. They are usually food, but sometimes he will bring me a picture of a toy or his blanky. I have slowly been expanding the range of pictures as he grows more comfortable and skillful with the system. I have even started taking a folder out and about with us to see if he can generalise the PECS while we are out... and yes! He can! He does! Yippee!!

But wait! There's more! Not only does the boy give pictures to me, but he has also been giving them to his big sisters! Why is this so great? ... because it means he is beginning to generalise his idea of 'asking'. It means that on some level, he is aware that other people can help too, not just mum.

I think things really started to click for him when I made more of an effort to show him what it was all about at home. He had been going well with the PECS at the SP's office for quite some time before he was able to use it at home. Two of the things I did that I can pinpoint that made a real difference were: 1) Giving him a 'drink' picture at the dinner table. He had to hand me the picture when he wanted a drink. He would also see me bringing the picture to the table from the PECS board, so that helped him understand where the pictures were kept and what to do with them. And 2) I added a whole bunch of new pictures to the PECS board one day, just as a "might as well do this too" task while I was doing something else. When he came home from kinder that day, he seemed to really notice the board and study the pictures. he even selected one (of his favourite toy) and brought it to me immediately! Prior to that, he pretty much ignored the whole thing.

The benefits of this new-found ability are more than some people might realise. First of all, there is now an avenue of communication between my son and other people - (even if it is mostly just myself at this stage) - also, his sisters now have a tangible way of communicating with their brother. I can't say how wonderful this is for them too. My girls love their brother so much, but often become so frustrated by his behaviours and inability for two-way communication. PECS is one step closer to facilitating that between them. More than mere information exchange, it also facilitates the beginnings of a closer interpersonal connection with the family and others. It shows my boy that there are ways to get what you want in an acceptable manner. It also means I can ask him what he wants and offer him some options instead of always 'dictating' him. It has given him a measure of freedom in his world: when you have no way of communicating with others you really are, in a sense, quite trapped. Instead of wandering around the place, maybe feeling like he is overlooked and ignored, he now has a way of expressing himself and making his wishes known without having to cry or scream or pull me towards something. This applies when we are out and about too.

I am so happy - for him and for myself haha! It only took 1.5 years of ST to get here, but here we are! The next step is to set up a visual daily schedule and begin teaching him about structure in the day, timing of events, etc. I am probably about 3/4 of the way through setting this up for him already, so I will post up when it is done :)

It's just truly wonderful. Of course I can't wait for the day when he gains speech, but for now, my little man has found his voice without having to make a sound :)


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