Learning Many Languages to Master Just One
What do you do when you know deep in your gut that something is different about your child? How do you handle it when people tell you there's nothing to worry about? How do you give your little one the best start you possibly can when it feels like you're running against the wind?
These are just some of the thoughts that used to race around in my head when I realized that the little boy I had adopted was presenting severe signs of delay. It seemed as though I was the only one who noticed at first, and when family and friends did eventually notice, it was me that they were looking at.
Thus began my journey of digging and searching countless hours on the internet until my shoulders began to ache looking for the reason my son at two years old could not say more than a few short, hard to understand words.
After a long road of research, trial and error, having setbacks and making progress, I wanted to share what I learned with other parents with children with developmental delays. In my book, Jumpstart the Guide for Parents with Developmentally Delayed Children, I explain in detail how we grabbed the bull by the horns, wrestling with different concepts until my son began to learn how to use language. There are many different kinds of developmental delays and there is a broad spectrum. I wanted to provide encouragement for parents like me who are trying to find their way on the broad road of childhood conditions. I list resources in the book, like Signing Savvy, that helped me. Websites like Signing Savvy have been a God-send because when my son had no voice in his mouth we found a voice in his fingers.
Athough my son is not hard of hearing or deaf, signing opened the way for him to understand that he could actually communicate his wants and needs even if in a simple way. I see ASL as it truly is, another language. Being able to find little starter words in ASL became cobblestones that lead to true communication.
Along with sign language I also used flash cards with words and my own made up songs. After writing the book I wondered how many children have mommies who can sing well enough to hold their attention so that they could learn speech. I thought, "Well, maybe not that many." So I recently released my first children's album called Spch Lang Fun Speech Songs. Children can listen and learn from the songs for free online at spchlang.com.
Even though my son is now talking constantly I have become a self-appointed cheerleader to all the parents struggling with communication problems. Language is not simply to speak but to be able to be understood. I believe, there is always a way this can be accomplished.