Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Academic Communicator" vs "Social Communicator"

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the importance of focusing on "social communication" FIRST. (Click HERE for that blog entry.)

I've gotten some questions from parents this week asking me, "What about speech therapy?" They want to know how you grow speech in a child who is developmentally delayed.

My answer, is to trust development.

Go back and get the non-verbal, pre-speech foundations and ignore words and "talk". Focus on "developmentally appropriate" and let the other "stuff" go until the other "stuff" is developmentally appropriate.

We have seen so many functions and skills begin to emerge and grow without ever working on the directly. By focusing on developmentally appropriate instead of addressing behavior out of sequence, we work more naturally, and it doesn't feel like "work" in the way a behavioral program did.

The best developmental chart I've found on the internet is the Adult Child Relationship Map by Dr James D MacDonald of Communicating Partners.

Learning about development first, intervening from a developmentally appropriate point for your child is a key to his/her experience and growth. Learn about development (not behavior) and trust development.


walking said...

As the mother of an autistic person with aphasia, I completely agree. A child needs a solid foundation of nonverbals, interaction patterns, and declarative language modeled FIRST. If every other aspect of development is on track and the child is delayed, then that would be the time to dig deeper.


Jenny said...

Penny, I think you said it really well, what I have been feeling in my heart but I didn't know it yet. We can't FORCE our children's brains to change when WE are ready...we can gently guide them into the next level they are ready for.
Right now, we are operating on the principal of helping our daughter feel better physically so that she isn't in a "survival mode" so to speak. Then she can naturally interact with joy and without distraction. We have seen just that happen! When she feels better, I can see her growing before my eyes!
That website link was really helpful, because I can see where my daughter is headed next...Thanks again for your insight!


Annie said...

Hi Penny,
Did you purchase Dr. MacDonald's manual, or just use the on-line information?

Thanks much!

Penny said...

Annie, I learned about Dr MacDonald and Communicating Partners recently. I haven't purchased anything yet. We're an RDI family. CP is similar to RDI. I like how Dr Jim helps me think about how to use myself in new ways with my daughter.

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