Our OT Misty was returning voice-mails late last night, and broke the very sad news that TODAY was Kittyboy's last day with Janna SL! We were quite sad, and so we made sure to get a picture of Kittyboy with The One Who Got Him Talking.
She's trying to get him to BLOW on the pinwheel - he's trying to show her, "Look, there's an easier way, you just spin it like this!"
Last August, Kittyboy was evaluated to have an 85% delay in communication - he had maybe half a dozen signs (for the basics, eat, drink, more, please, thank you, night-night) and babbled on the level of a four-month old. He was 18 months, chronological age. He rarely signed without prompting - he would bring a book and bang the corner into your leg saying, "MM! MM!" rather than hand it to you and sign please. We had eliminated basic hunger and thirst as a cause for tantrums, but he still collapsed in tears on a regular basis for no discernable reason, because he couldn't SAY, "Mommy, I can't find my teddy bear" "Mommy, I want to go outside" "Mommy, I want peas instead of corn for lunch". Boy, oh boy, did he qualify for Speech therapy.
Some time last September or October, maybe the second or third time she saw him, Janna SL said, "I think he's trying to say it with his mouth closed. Has he ever been diagnosed with oral aphasia?" And thus began a voyage of discovery - he was indeed trying to copy speech, but wasn't opening his mouth. Either didn't realize he had to, or thought it WAS open (when he was learning to drink through a straw, we had many problems with milk spilling out because he would forget to close his lips). What a difference it made, when instead of sighing, "Please, don't WHINE!" we started asking him what he was trying to SAY. The whining tone slowly disappeared as he realized he was finally being listened to - and we slowly learned to distinguish between mm, ng, gng, gm, and all the other noises he made with his mouth closed. We still had no clue what he was trying to say, but we could tell that one was different from another, and that was a start. It took off from there.
So this is the lady who got him talking. When Kittyboy runs up to me and says "Mommy, [sign for help]!" I thank God for Janna. Now that he knows how communication works (and that he is fully capable of it) he dives into it headlong - he hybridizes signs to approximate a word for which he doesn't have a sign, he makes up signs sometimes, he parrots words all day long, and he'll attempt words that are difficult by just taking the first syllable and repeating it. Je-je for Jesus. And usually (usually), he does it without us having to push him back, unwrap his fingers from our clothing, and say, "Stop whining and TELL US!" I had described it to Janna as his baby chimp act - pulling on us, trying to climb us, and whining unintelligibly. He has baby chimp moments, but it's not ALL DAY LONG.
Misty will be finding us another SLT, or possibly our EI coordinator will. I'm sure it will be someone good, either way, we've had wonderful therapists all around - but I need to print and frame that picture, of Kittyboy and The One Who Got Him Talking (and saved our sanity!).
We will miss Janna very much. May God bless her work and all the lives she touches. She touched ours in a BIG way.