Speech and language therapy


Most speech and language therapists are not specialists for hearing impairment. They are great at speech delay in children or post stroke adults, but the child with little hearing is a different skill. Lay on top of this the child with no hearing and Alice needs very specialist help. We now have two SALTs (speech and language therapists) one given to us by the PCT who will come every 3 weeks and one that we will pay for privately (Christopher Place). In time, Alice will also have therapy as part of the CI programme.

So what do they do. Ultimately, they are looking at communication. All agree that Alice has no speech currently and is unlikely to develop much pre-implant. So we need to work on her non-verbal communication (playing, sharing, pointing etc) but also giving her a framework to communicate. We need to teach her “signs” for things she needs and wants. It will be a bastardised version of makaton and cued speech and will be specific to Alice. We are also putting together Alice’s book, which will have all of her favourite things, so that when she wants mummy, daddy, joseph, milk or mouse she use the picture as well.

Signing is not our long term solution, speech is, but we want her to tell us if she’s hungry or thirsty and we want to “talk” with our daughter.

All Cued Up

So that’s it. We’re all done. Four home-based Cued Speech lessons later and we’re fully clued up (or should that be cued up?? Boom boom).

Last night was our final session with Catharine. Tremendous fun as ever and I must admit to a few nerves at the prospect of being ‘on our own’ now. That’s not to say that we wont/can’t have refresher courses, in addition to my level 1 cued speech exam which I hope to sit shortly. Apparently if I pass the level 3 exam I can teach cued speech, which given the current recession, may well be a sensible course of action.

Much of last night was spent being tested and practising some fairly complex phrases. We have all got to the stage now where we can pretty much cue anything we want to say (albeit rather slowly). Catharine decided last night would be a good time to cue the Lewis Carol poem ‘Jabberwocky’. For those of you who haven’t worked out what cued speech actually is, you can see someone cueing the very same poem on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5hiRL2ujM4

Now you see how far we have come.

So to Alice. The difficulty is keeping her attention when you are cueing to her. We are pretty confident that she has worked out ‘No’ (which we seem to say with monotonous regularity), but trying to engage her in anything more complex is proving a little tricky. Patience is certainly a virtue.

All this said, I am so very proud of my whole family for taking such a keen interest in helping Alice to communicate. It’s not easy (particularly for the olds, whose arthritic fingers struggle to get round some of the cues) but it is to everyone’s credit that they have come so far.

It would be remiss of me not to thank Catharine for her tremendous help, support and wise words these past couple of months. She has been an inspiration to us all and I was so proud of myself for correcting her on a misplaced cue last night.

Catharine, you are a star.

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