It takes a village to be sure!
We took Jett to his first speech evaluation with Renee Hill of Talk Tools last Wednesday (through a scholarship from http://www.dsfflorida.org/ ). She was amazed! She said that she had to evaluate him using the typical scale, not the one for children with DS. She said he was on par and above the typical child. He has no tongue protrusion, great lip closure, strong jaw muscles, etc. He is on his way to clear speech! She said it was the easiest evaluation she'd ever done and had the least amount of suggestions.
A brief history of Jett's language success:
-He's been "babbling paragraphs" for many months. See/hear Jett at 3 months: http://durkinworks.blogspot.com/2010/06/jett-babbling-paragraphs.html.
-Randomly said clear words off and on starting with "Daddy" at six months. (okay, alright, go' boy, oh boy, hey)
-He said his first word of intention at 8 months old: "Water"
-Jett said his first two-word sentence last Sunday: "Poopy good-bye!" (I'll spare you the details!)
This progress didn't happen by accident, of course.
First, breast feeding helped to build his jaw muscles and help with tongue thrust, among many other things. (It was so difficult for the first month or so but he finally got the hang of it!)
Second, we've used James D. MacDonald's (jamesdmacdonald.org) communication methods since he was born. You can see Alex mirroring Jett when he was 3 months old here:
Third, we read the article: The Oral-Motor Myths of Down Syndrome By Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, M.S.,CCC/SLP (founder of Talk Tools) when Jett was 3 months old and followed all her advice. You can find the article in Qadoshyah Fish's book, Down Syndrome, What You CAN Do. (http://stores.lulu.com/gotdownsyndrome )
This DVD workshop by Lori Overland will teach you how. Developing Oral-Motor and Feeding Skills in the Down Syndrome Population. For the cost of just a few therapy appointments, you will get the techniques to simply change the way to feed your baby and thereby build the muscle skill and muscle memory for speech clarity.
Fourth, Kay Ness gave an eye-opening/life changing speech to our DS group that guided us in many ways including emphasizing the importance of keeping our children's nasal and ear canals clear in order to develop proper speech. (http://senc.us/Down_Syndrome.html) Which eventually led to cranial sacral work, AIR tea and Dr. Block's methods to open his nasal passages & ear canal.
Fifth, through following Kay's ND program since 8 months, Jett has been developing his oral sensory skills (mesh feeding bag, massages, etc.) and increasing his vocabulary (flash cards, songs, etc.).
Sixth, Qadoshyah's blog entry about how to feed our children correctly helped prevent bad habits and showed how to use feeding as oral motor therapy:
And lastly, to Teresa Cody of CMF who put the pieces together so we can have a path to treat our kids. Without cognition, Jett's speech definitely wouldn't have progressed as much as it has.
So, to Camille Gardiner (friend & DSFF), Kay Ness, Teresa Cody, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, Qadoshyah Fish, James D. MacDonald, Dr. Franz, Dr. Loi (TCM), Dr. Marquart, Dr. Block, Vicki Booher (cranial sacral) the lactation specialist Kristin L.Worishcheck who cheered mommy on, our families and of course Alex & Kathy Durkin....
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
Click for a more detailed guide on the best ways for Getting Your Baby to Communicate.