|Chelsea signs "school" on her first day of school in 2015|
Because she wasn't catching on and I saw no progress, I gave that up and focused my energy on other areas of her development. At her two year evaluation with our early intervention program, the speech therapist recommended that we try ASL again. I decided that maybe it would be worth it to try again after a 4 month break, and had just had a new baby, so began teaching sign to both kids.
Since I knew no sign language, I started borrowing Signing Time videos from the library and watching them with Chelsea. They were great at teaching sign! I learned quickly, and Chelsea liked them too. She started picking up ASL slowly but steadily, and at 2 1/2 years old, knew 9 signs- go, stop, Mom, Dad, more, thank you, please, candy, and water. At 2 years 8 months, Chelsea knew 33 signs, and continued to increase her ASL vocabulary until now at 4 years 10 months, has about 600 words in sign.
We also used PECS to help with the communication barrier. (Chelsea didn't say her first word "Mama" until she was 2 years 9 months old).
I started using PECS before I knew what it was. I took pictures of some of Chelsea's favorite things (her brother, blanket, applesauce, read a book, etc), laminated them, and wrote the word on there. I put magnets on the back, and Chelsea would pick one off of the fridge, and hand it to me. Once when her EI speech therapist was over, Chelsea toddled out of the room and came back with her "I want applesauce" card, and the speech therapist introduced me to PECS.
|Signs star for starfish|
I can't even explain the relief I felt when she was able to communicate what she wanted. Chelsea would cry and cry and I had absolutely no idea what she wanted, so would offer food, drinks, check for a diaper change, check her temperature, give her Tylenol, snuggle her, take her outside, read... I would go through that checklist multiple times a day, desperately trying to meet my child's unspoken needs.
With PECS, she could point to what she wanted so that I could understand her. She progressed to where she would carry around a little binder with about a hundred pictures inside it of things she might ask for, and would flip through the pages and hand a picture to me.
|Chelsea signs "book" at the library|
PECS was really nice because I would drop her off for about 4 hours a week while I coached gymnastics, and the daycare providers had no idea what she wanted. Once, she was signing please, and they thought she had a tummy ache, so held her over the toilet so she could throw up. I have so many babysitter horror stories... Chelsea stopped PECS once her sign was really picking up around 3 years old, because ASL is so much faster than flipping pages and pulling off cards, and her hands were always accessible.
I think ASL and PECS are great tools for any kid- special needs, typical, gifted, or whatever!