Friday, April 2, 2010

A Speech and Language Update

Had a phone call from Charlie's Speech Therapist a couple days ago. At Charlie's IEP in January she had decided it may be a good idea to do some formal evaluations with him to direct her further course of therapy.

It a took a while to get done as Charlie was ill, then the ST was ill, then he was, and so on. Finally, with everyone feeling fine she was able to conduct the testing. She said Charlie was very cooperative, and seemed to have a good time. It was the Preschool Speech and Language Scale, I believe, or some other test with a combination of some or all of those words.

We talked a lot about how he responded, what he was able to do, and what was still beyond his ability. Her findings were not really a surprise, but interesting to know:

Charlie is testing at about 2 years of age across the board for expressive and receptive language. This means his speech and language development is coming along in a completely normal developmental pattern, just extra slowly. This is really great news as it means there is nothing special that needs to be done for him. Even without therapy he would continue to develop, but the hope is that with continued therapy we can bring the process up to a higher gear.

Charlie and Calvin do have a lot of the same sort of conversation. Though, really, Calvin seems ahead, or is pulling ahead very quickly. So, I guess I would have placed Charlie at a bit below age 2, or Calvin a bit above. It is interesting to see Calvin zip through the stages that for Charlie hardly seem like stages, but more like spaces he occupies. For a mom so intrigued by development, Calvin gives me the brief overview of a developmental process, and Charlie gives me the step-by-step breakdown of the stages between stages. Anyway, just something that I find kind of cool about our family.

Back to our conversation, there is one area of great concern, not measured by the scales used, but obvious to all, and that is articulation. Charlie is extremely difficult to understand. This is because of a couple of Down Syndrome related things, and is not at all a surprise. One is low muscle tone, not to be confused with muscle weakness. His muscles tend to just be more relaxed which can make speech sound a little lazy. Another reason is a smaller mouth. Maybe you have noticed children with Down Syndrome who tend to have their little tongues sticking out a lot. This is not due to having a big tongue, but to having a smaller mouth. Combine that with relaxed facial muscles, and you've got a tongue that just kind of hangs out toward the front of the mouth, making speech less clear.

These issues, the ST explained, are things she will address with him as he grows closer to 4 years in Speech/Language development, because if you drill exercises and demands for making sounds properly too early, a preschool age child can just get kind of shut-down and burnt out on speaking--at least in therapy I would suppose!

Anyway, that is our little update of interesting developmental tid-bits.
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