Thanks to a certain mom who visited John Tracy for the June session, today's laundry was totally free. She sent me her unused laundry card, which is good since we have a lot of Crystal-Light tainted clothing. We are eternally grateful! I am trying to get everything tidy and all of the jobs out of the way, since we are leaving for Disneyland after school tomorrow (note: there probably won't be any updates until we're done with the House of Mouse).
Nolan is quite happy with his new books, and loves to read his "Friends, Friends, Who Do You See?" book. He can't name all of the friends in his class yet, but he gets excited when he sees Sam, Gracie, and Lucas. When he sees Lucas, he shouts, "That my Wucas!" He actually "reads" the routine book to us- this is probably because we've been talking about the classroom routine constantly since the first day.
Nolan really enjoys "Going John Tracy," as he puts it. Since we don't have auditory-verbal therapy at home, he is not very familiar with the Ling Six sounds and has no idea how to perform the listening checks in the morning. I have read about the Lings online and through the John Tracy course, but it is hard to put a theory into practice when you've never seen it done. The summer course really cements the correspondence course ideas- we saw how the Ling sounds are used with a hand cue, and saw ways to help Nolan learn to respond to them. His teacher (the fabulous Miss B., who is absolutely amazing) uses little Crayola stampers as an incentive for certain tasks. To help Nolan with the Ling sounds, she had Dennis and I model the task. When we gave the sound in response, we got a heart stamp. Nolan is painfully shy in class, so he was reluctant to give any response. He finally gave an "Ah" in response, and received a stamp for that. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get a bit more.
Nolan is quite shy in large groups. I'm not quite sure how to handle this- I hate to see him hunch over and not want to participate in the circle time activities, etc. He does put his picture on his dolphin in the morning, but crawls to the bulletin board and then hides his face. I wonder if he just doesn't like being the center of attention. One problem I'm seeing is that he sometimes will even push other children away when he's in "shy mode." This isn't a good thing, because we want him to socialize freely with others. The good thing is that he's not always in "shy mode," and his clingy behavior is often worse when I'm in the room. I'm glad he is in a classroom without Mommy present, because he can come out of his shell and branch out a little.
The parent portion consisted of lectures on audiology. While much of the information is fairly basic, I still learn something new each day. They do complete audiological testing here, so Nolan will receive some tests he has never had before. One is called a stapedial reflex test- if this is absent, there is typically significant hearing loss (usually >60dB). It will be interesting to see if Nolan has a present reflex, since his loss is 60-65dB rising to 40dB. The audiologist thought that the reflex would probably not be present with this level of loss (it is present in mild losses). We also discussed the differences between ABR's and ASSR testing (rather technical and boring to most, but I really liked this section).
We also had a demonstration of computer-driven speech programs. They showed us why it is not good to use computer generated speech programs, because the programs can positively reinforce incorrect speech patterns. For instance, if you are working on sound presence, a child who says, "AHHH" appropriately is rewarded. Unfortunately, so is the child who has a raspy, breathy, "Ah-hhh-ah-hh." Since practice can make permanent, you don't want to give a big reward for the incorrect sound. A live person is able to listen to the child's speech, and if it is not quite on target, give a better model of how the specific sound should be said. For instance, if the "Y" in Yogurt comes out as an /n/, acoustic highlighting could be used to get a /y/ sound. The therapist or teacher (or parent) could lean in close to the child's microphones and say, "eeeyummy!" to highlight the /y/ sound. I found this useful, since Nolan often uses a sound close to /n/ when he says "Yeah!" We can highlight the /y/ sound to help clear up the confusion.
Formal and informal assessments were discussed at the end of the day. Parents can use informal assessments to ensure their child is still on track- and to know when it is time to up the ante and move to the next level. Things like pragmatics (the use of language in social contexts), word counts using vocabulary lists, and language samples can be monitored informally. Professionals use formal assessments to get unbiased language data, including tests like the PLS-4. We were able to watch a video of one of the children in our session having a language evaluation. The personalized videos they show us really drive some points home! They did stress not testing children with the same test too frequently, as children can memorize parts of the test. This would invalidate results, so if testing is going to be given less than six months after the previous test, a different test should be used. For that reason, Nolan will be tested with a different articulation and expressive/receptive language test than the PLS-4 (the test that was used in May).
I did peek in on Nolan during his speech session today. He was having standardized testing done- I think it might have been a picture vocabulary test (or a receptive language test- not sure). His SLT asked him to point to "buckle," and he did! I was shocked that he knew that word. Another set of parents was also in the observation room, and she noted that it can be easy to underestimate what our little ones know. I agree- I suppose it is time to up the ante for Nolan's vocabulary (next up: words like jubilant and ecstatic)!