Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, August 04, 2011

7 months home: Lots of Gains

Back when we had Axel's first language assessments done, he tested below 12 months in both expressive and receptive language skills, and that's taking into consideration he was a new English language learner.  It didn't help matters that he heard Serbian from birth - age 2...about the time he would have started talking, at which time he was moved to a facility where Hungarian was used.  About the time he would have just started really understanding Hungarian, somewhere around age 4, he was moved to a different facility where both Hungarian, Serbian, and occasionally German was used. He was there until he was 7 when he was moved to a foster home speaking Serbian. 2 1/2 years later along comes us with our English. Axel never had a chance to develop a first language. He had NO expressive communication when I got him. Nothing. A couple of people who were around him in Serbia told me he would say a word here in there, like machina (car) or pas (dog). But my other Serbian friends who had no reason to glorify things for me said they didn't hear any recognizable words from him. There was just nothing.

The moment I took custody of him, I started signing to him. "Shoes", "shirt", "eat", "drink", "more". Everything. I signed every important thing I could think of as we it came up. The poor kid was suddenly bombarded with language. But guess what? This boy, starved for communication, GOT IT! It only took one time of him imitating a sign (drink) for him to realize that would make me jump and get him a drink!

This video was taken on December 4th 2010. I'd had custody of Axel for 24 hours at this point.

I look at this little boy and I want to cry. He had no knowledge. Nobody had given him a way to say anything. He didn't know the names of colors. He couldn't count, and didn't even know what numbers were for that matter. He doesn't even LOOK like the same child 7 1/2 months later!

Let me tell you where Axel is at now. His receptive and expressive language now tests in a range from 3-5 years. Yes, he is turning 11 years old. But people, he has gained 3-5 years of language skills in just 7 1/2 months!!! That is AMAZING!!! I have fed him new vocabulary (in sign) at every opportunity. The funny thing is, he was able to identify items and concepts that I haven't taught him yet (like "kite". I've not shown him a kite.) It is just impossible to get 10 years of exposure to the world crammed into this short time. I credit Axel's amazing speech therapist and the Signing Time video series for covering the gaps for me so far.

Axel has learned LOTS of things besides vocabulary.

Last week I really started pushing written numbers 11-20. We do them on the calendar and stuff like that, but I haven't really pushed him until now. Like most kids, the teens have been tricky for Axel to learn. You can see when they come up that he knows that "14" is different than the "4" he wants to sign, but he can't remember quite how to sign it. Do you shake it, wave it, what do you do? LOL Still, he tries hard! You even get to see him cue a word or two! Oh, and he almost always has a hat perched on top of his halo. LOL

We're still working on counting 10 objects consistently without needing help. You'll see  how s.l.o.w. he does this. This is what fools most people into thinking he needs help, and it took me a while to realize he was sometimes sucking me in too! I know, it's painful to watch sometimes. This is the speed he does most things, and is the reason my hair is all falling out, I think.

Still to come: letter names, letter sounds, and cuing some words,  maybe even some sight reading if I can get to it!


Kathy said...

wow! Just wow. So much accomplished in such a short time. You are a great teacher, Leah, and he is so smart! Handsome little man!

Alicia said...

omg! you all have done an amazing job!! he is doing pretty good, and he is sooooo cute!!

doozee said...

that's awesome just so awesome, seeing the videos and how he's developing and growing!

Julie said...

I am amazed at his progress! He is such a cutie!