Friday, February 20, 2009

Broadband Communication

Pamela is near the end of Stage 2 of RDI, which means that Pamela is starting to enter her terrible two's in her dynamic thinking (and we are seeing signs of it, but that is fodder for another day). I know it sounds odd: a nineteen-year-old--who can perform all operations on decimals, read upper elementary level books, drives down the highway on Google Earth, and can tell you the day of the week you were born if given the date--is, in some ways, a toddler. I know it's trite, but it is what it is.

A recent article on gestures and vocabulary development in toddlers points out the importance of broadband communication for young children. (So, why do speech therapists sometimes ignore this vital component of language development, I ask?) Just as scientists have discovered in typical children, I am finding that nonverbal forms of communication seem to be preceding expanded phrases and sentences for Pamela:
Don't just talk to your toddler--gesture, too. Pointing, waving bye-bye and other natural gestures seem to boost a budding vocabulary. Scientists found those tots who could convey more meaning with gestures at age 14 months went on to have a richer vocabulary as they prepared to start kindergarten. And intriguingly, whether a family is poor or middle class plays a role, the researchers report Friday.
Through co-op classes, Pamela learned many ASL signs, but she never connected it to real life as a form of communication. I had hoped it would be the key for her, but it was not. She thought of signs as fun but because she was not actively reading and using broadband communication. It was a game to her, much like finger-spelling was a game to Helen Keller before the water pump moment. The study explained,
This is not baby sign-language; parents weren't formally training their tots. Instead, they used everyday gestures to point something out or illustrate a concept. A child points to a dog and mom says, "Yes, that's a dog." Or dad flaps his arms to mimic flying. Or pointing illustrates less concrete concepts like "up" or "down" or "big."
Today, I filmed Pamela while we shopped at Wally World. The objective was to allow Pamela to guide and direct me more both verbally and physically. I act like a bit of a blockhead, doing and saying the wrong thing, to give Pamela the chance to give me more specific feedback. I look the wrong way and stumble for words. I say the wrong place or thing, or I accidentally skip an aisle. If she could, Pamela would probably say "Over there" for ever! My cluelessness requires her to be more specific and explicit. Notice how well she uses gestures, facial expressions, and words!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sometimes get overwhelmed and flustered in Wally World. The amount of sensory overload there -- in my humble opinion -- can be enough to break a completely neurotypical adult. :-D

I am really impressed with the work Pamela's doing here. She's doing a great job of acting as guide and dealing with uncertainty. Awesome!