Monday, August 1, 2016

Lessons I'm Learning from Nancy Kaufman

People have asked me if going to see Nancy Kaufman is worth the money.  It is expensive, add in the travel expenses and family sacrifices to make it work and it is costly.

But it's worth every penny.  Every new word, new phrase, new lesson learned is worth it.  I've seen her methods before.  I've attended her sessions at conferences.  I've purchased and watched her DVDs teaching her methods.  I watched her work with Kiddo for four days in 2014.  I've put into practice what I've learned from her.  But watching her work with your own child, determine what your child needs to work on and is capable of, and then teach you how to do it yourself is invaluable.  

The top three lessons I've learned from Nancy Kaufman during our time at SPEAK:

1) Push for more, because he is capable of more. 

I've watched speech therapists work with my son and drill him on two and three syllable words, trying to mold those words into perfection before moving onto longer words and phrases.  Because the more words he says, the harder it is to understand.  I've done it myself with him.

But according to Nancy Kaufman, this is wrong.  Instead of focusing on making sure a child can say bunny correctly (how often do kiddos say bunny every day, anyway?) focus on getting them to functional speech.  "I want bunny", even if it doesn't sound clear, is better than a child being able to say just bunny perfectly clear.

I had learned this last time we were with Nancy Kaufman in 2014, but I'm seeing just how much she expects of Kiddo, and he is meeting her expectations!  I would try and add one word to the length of his sentences, she is adding anywhere from 2-5 words to his phrases.

On Monday (the first day) she showed him three pictures of a boy in sequence, first of him chewing bubble gum, then of blowing a bubble, and then of it popping.  She asked him what was happening in the pictures and he said "Boy blow bubble."  Last Thursday, she was having him say "He is blowing a bubble.  It popped."  And today during his sessions she was having him say "He is chewing bubble gum.  He is blowing a bubble.  It popped on his face.  He needs to wipe it off."

Can you believe that?!  From a three word phrase to four complete sentences..  Amazing!!  Sure, it wasn't perfectly clear.  Sure he needed prompting for quite a bit of those four sentences.  But we're working on that, while teaching him how to use language he's heard for years but has never had the opportunity to use himself.  Because he needs...

2) Scripting, scripting, and more scripting.

Again, I've learned about scripting from her before.  It simply means telling your child what you want them to say, because they don't know how to say it themselves.  It is something that you need to do continuously to help your child grow in language.  So for example, if Kiddo goes up to our hotel elevator and tells me "Push button," I now correct him and say, "I'm.." and pause to let him correct himself and finish the sentence with proper grammar, giving him the opportunity to say "I'm pushing the button."  If he were to leave off the 'the' then I say, "I'm pushing the..." and he will say "I'm pushing the button".  It's a constant process of teaching proper language, but one that he is picking up quickly with the constant practice and the push that he needs.  Because, like above, he is capable of it.  He can handle it.  I cannot accept two or three-word phrases from him when I know he can do more.

And finally,

3) Cueing before the mistake is made

Cueing speech means giving either a verbal, visual, or tactile indication of what or how something is supposed to be said.  For example, Kiddo has a hard time saying m and n if it is at the end of a word.  The cue for m is to put two fingers across your lips to indicate your lips are closed for the m sound.  The cue for n is to touch the side of your nose, because the n sound is nasal and vibrates in your nose, and that way the child can feel if they made the sound properly.  
So, since we know Kiddo tends to leave off the m and the n, we cue him as he is saying the word to remind him to add that sound.  

For example, if we want him to say "I'm eating," we say "I'm'' while putting our fingers across our lips to remind him of the final m.  And 9 times out of 10 he does it. But if we forget to cue him, he reverts back to what he's used to, which is simply to say I since the m is hard for him and the motor planning for the m is not wired into his brain yet.  We want to erase the old pattern of leaving off the m and n and so we are working to create a new pattern that overrides the old one, if that makes sense.

It may all sound exhausting or overwhelming, but honestly, I'm finding it exciting because I'm hearing and seeing the growth right before my eyes.  He is saying things that are blowing me away, and I am beyond thrilled to be learning how to help both my kiddos share their thoughts with the world.  

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