Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 for 21: Tommy's Speech (Part 2)

I am very proud of my boy! His Speech therapist thinks that Tommy's speech is advanced for his age. She mentioned in our conversation that many typical kids the same age than Tommy don't have all the Speech sounds Tommy has. If a child don't have all the speech sounds before seven, there is nothing to be worry about it because it is considered in the 'normal' range. Thinking in her words, I remember it is not the first time I have heard or realized this. I think Tommy's advanced speech is due to many factors, but the most important factor is that he has been blessed with the ability of "imitation" that opens the doors for learning.  This a skill we discovered in Tommy since he was very little.

When he wants to say a new word, he deeply focused in the person's mouth. He looks very focused at the lips movement and he mimics the movement of person's lips. People that knows Tommy knows he likes to practice his speech sounds in front of the mirror. When there is a word he cannot say, he practices that word for days, weeks and even months until he can clearly say it. It is something he enjoys!

Factors have influenced Tommy's speech
  • Being raised in a multicultural environment where he hears two languages, English and Spanish. For example: For a monolingual child the sound for the letter "l" is just "l", for Tommy is "l" and "elle."
  • Being exposed to listening to different languages, such as: Native american, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese among others. It is not for him to learn the language, it's to train his mind to differentiate the sounds. 
  • Listening to letter sounds since he was a baby. When Tommy was a baby, I used to say all the Spanish vowel sounds just for him to listen. When he was getting older, I added more sounds. Specially, the sounds that are commonly hard for a child with Trisomy 21, such as: f, l, r, s, v, x and z. Here a video of Tommy doing the Spanish "R" sound when he was a baby. The Spanish R sound wasn't teach to Tommy, he picked it up by just listening to me talking in Spanish.
  • Learning the short sounds of the alphabet with the Zoo-phonics. Tommy does most of the short sounds for the alphabet. Lately, I have heard him clearly saying the letter "Z" short sound. 
  • Learning to use a straw cup, as well as, blowing bubbles at a very young age.
I never thought this will help Tommy to have advanced Speech sounds, I just did it because I want to exposed him to the speech sounds so it could help him with his speech intelligibility. Some how it is working because I have heard several comments of people that they understand what he says.

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