Thursday, February 14, 2013

teach a boy to talk

Wedding planning... It's one of those times in your Life that you desperately need those money trees in the back yard... Things that normally you couldn't care less about- become the most important things in the Universe... Water bottle labels, cake table decorations, favors and chair covers... Thank God Etsy and Pinterest weren't big back makes that frenzy for stuff even worse... In retrospect- the most important decision I made (besides Michael) was the photographer...

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In retrospect, the pictures meant the most to me... they were by far the absolute greatest investment from the day...

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My adorable nephew, Tristin

The tiny little beach chairs holding guests names, the monogrammed cake table initials, the champagne flutes and my strappy shoes- they weren't important...but the pictures are beyond typical measure of worth.

As of now, there is no cure for Autism- however- there are therapies created to lesson the symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I've only been on the Autism portion of my Life for about 19 months now- but I can easily say that Speech Therapy has been one of the most important elements of out multi-modal treatment of the symptoms of Autism... Speech is my wedding pictures...And like my wedding pictures- it isn't cheap...but you find a way when you think it is important.

As soon as a delay in speech is noticed Speech Thereapy can be started- even as early as 16 months old. Some physicians or therapists can and will tell you differently- you don't have to accept that answer. There's no need to wait for an actual diagnosis. It is recommended that anyone diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder do Speech Therapy. Many children with Autism are either non-verbal or extremely verbal- like Aspergers Syndrome. People with Asperger Syndrome are likely to misunderstand, and therefore misuse language and have difficult time having a back and forth conversation.

Traditional speech therapy is often Teacher directed...I sat with Greyson through 20 painstaking traditional or typical speech therapy sessions when he was 24 months old. It was torture for him and for me.  There is a place for the therapy that was being conducted- but this wasn't it. Kids with Autism must be taught differently. There was no playing, no motivation to learn called reinforcers. (reinforcers are things that increase the likelihood that a response will occur...reinforcers can be praise- candy- tokens or play time for example). The first 4 sessions Greyson screamed the entire 30 minutes... When he was finally used to sitting in his chair- he stopped screaming. The teacher spent each session reviewing flashcards and modeling the word she wanted Greyson to say. During the 20 sessions he said a total of 5 words that he already knew. ASD kids have a very difficult time following directions and lack primary imitation skills- which made this flash card review ineffective.

Students with ASD respond better to incidental's almost as if they are accidentally learning while they are playing...and it's truly an amazing communion to witness. Although there is method and structure and data being kept- the child leads and the teacher follows while simultaneously teaching over the top. It's more concrete and less contrived compared to conventional methods.

It wasn't until Greyson started Behavioral Speech Therapy that he finally was able to learn how to imitate speech and understand some of the complexities of language...I will never forget that first 50 minute session (50 minutes!? What?! That's too long! I don't think he can handle that I said...I was wrong...) A key inside his brain unlocked a door. Greyson said at least 5 words I had never heard before... He began to gain an ability to repeat the sounds the Teacher made...he finally understood what he needed to do. Magic...

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Since Greyson started school in August, his Language has regressed significantly. It's heart breaking to watch the time and energy we poured into Early Intervention leaking out. We realized we needed to supplement the speech he is receiving through the school district with the Big Guns at The Talk Team. Teacher Amy worked with Grey during his Early Intervention phase until he started school. I call them Super Hero's in heels. Home girls can teach some talky talk.

Now Greyson is working with Teacher Amber. Based on our discussion of Greyson's current skils - we agreed it would be best to start back at square one with him. Based on his past performance- he will quickly ramp back up to where we left off before school started. (And I mean quickly in a really slow way in Typical Time).

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This is how a Speech therapy room for little kiddos should look! When you are going to learn all your Life- learning should be filled with wonder and with fun- even if you aren't Autistic.

My dot from today...

 photo _MG_1058_zpse175371e.jpgAnd although paint your nails was on my To Do list tonight- I didn't get it done- because I am mentally incapable of To Do lists at night- or doing most anything besides watch Bravo TV and writing this Blog.

PS-- I love you. Have a great Valentine's Day... Like a little kid- I've always kind of been anti Valentine's day... Don't tell me when I'm supposed to Love- calendar... But having Littles kind of changes things... I think I'm softening...

PPS--- Have you liked Life with Greyson on Facebook yet?


  1. Chrissy, I'm so glad you're supplementing his speech therapy! I was an SLP in the schools in Charlotte for 3 years, and it broke my heart to see what the district said I could do for speech therapy. They might as well had not offered kids therapy. I can't tell you how much I love reading your blog!

  2. I had the same experience with my daughter. Nine months of the other therapy going nowhere, but then I found The Talk Team. The first 50 minute session rocked her world and I knew this was exactly what she needed. Her language exploded once someone "got" how she needed to learn.

  3. Speech therapists are amazing people! We have had two very different ladies but they were perfect for us at each step of our journey. Both are fun filled, loving ladies.