My last update on Ava’s speech therapy progress was almost exactly three weeks ago. At that time I had only been working with her for about 2 and ½ weeks and her progress was amazing. I commented that in terms of her speech she looked like an entirely different child than before I started working with her.
Three weeks later and she continues to make progress at an almost unbelievable rate. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m so glad I’m blogging about all of this because otherwise I wouldn’t believe it myself. I have dropped down to more like an average of 4 sessions a week (in addition to the therapy she’s getting from others). Real life keeps interfering. Ideally I’d work with her every single day, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
So, three weeks ago she’d imitate easy things when bribed by food and spontaneously about half the time. She was using /d/, /m/, /h/, /s/, /n/, /sh/, /t/, /w/, and /b/ (not all clearly, but trying). She had a limited number of vowels but refused to even try new ones. She was using CV syllable structure and could imitate simple CVCV syllables (mama, dada). She was using 15-20 “words”.
Fast forward three weeks and she’s moved up to a whole new level again. She’s added more consonants including /p/ and /y/ (the sound at the beginning of yellow) and gotten much better at some of the ones she was just starting on three weeks ago.
She’s also making progress on her vowels. Her productions of the ones she already knew are getting cleaner and she’s adding new ones like the short /i/ and the long /e/. More importantly, she’s willing to work on them now. Before I couldn’t get her to even try a new vowel.
She’s using CVCV syllable structure spontaneously. Our family members finally have names. We’re “mama” “dada” “papa” and she has approximations for her own name, her brother’s name and her grandmother. (And that still hasn’t grown old. She loves calling us by name and does it frequently just because it makes her happy. It makes me happy too.) Even more impressive, and just in this last week she’s starting to be able to do CVCV words where the vowel changes. So she can do “nanuh” for banana. Or “babi” for baby. They’re messy, and the vowels aren’t pure, but you can tell she’s trying to make the two vowels sound different. Occasionally they will just pop out clear as day, but most of the time they’re messy.
Before she was using 15-20 words total. Now I truly couldn’t count. She’s spontaneously attempting new words. Her receptive language is great and always was. She knew the words for things, she just couldn’t say them. Everything was locked inside. Now she’ll just try. What pops out of her mouth often sounds a little like what she’s trying for, but I’m mostly guessing from context. The point though is that she’s trying on her own. She just looks at something, or wants to talk about something she sees on tv and just tries to tell us about it. It shows such a gain in confidence on her part.
Seriously, if I were working as a professional (rather than as a mother in this case) and evaluated Ava six weeks ago, then three weeks ago, and today and then I put those evaluations side by side I wouldn’t think they could possibly come from the same kid. I’m humbled and grateful and amazed at what she has accomplished. In fact those words don’t really fully express how I feel about all the progress.
Why is it working? It is the fish oil? You have to wonder at least a little. Is it a matter of lots of the right kind of therapy at the right time? Would she have gotten better anyway if we had just left her alone? Is it that her speech problem is just really responsive to intervention - so once we started working with her the problem that looked so severe turns out to be milder? Am I getting excited too early because a plateau is just around the corner? We’ve come so far. And there’s still so much left to do. And I’m scared this is some kind of fluke that will be taken back. I’m trying hard to not be too hopeful. Which sounds odd, but it’s true.