Reading is Fundamental

January 19, 2008 Kyron No Comments

If I haven’t mentioned it before I think Katherine is a pretty amazing kid. When you meet her it’s fairly obvious something is different. Her stance is a little different, her gait (the way she walks) is decidedly different. She carries her right arm differently than her left. She will reach to shake hands with you with her left hand. Then Katherine opens her mouth to speak.

With the exception of a slight slurring which occasionally comes up (medication induced) she has an incredibly diverse and rich vocabulary. She sounds like someone with a fairly reasonable IQ. Her IQ is 48.

People comment about this constantly. How is it that Katherine verbal belies her very real issues? I think it’s two-fold. Reading and Speaking.

momread Reading is Fundamental
Reading
I read to Katherine. I read everything I could get her to sit still for. I made up stories. I changed out the characters to her favorite people. Poor Auntie Joan was the evil stepmom in so many stories I was afraid Katherine would begin to get freaked out by it. But quite the contrary. It got her mimicking vocabulary to recite to others what she had heard. It entertained her and because it was repeated ad nauseam it stuck. She doesn’t always get it, but she has an uncanny knack for repeating words in context. I tell you this because no matter how profoundly affected your child is by his or her disability you just don’t know what’s going to stick.

Speaking
I talk to Katherine. I don’t talk down to Katherine. In many respects I probably go out of my way to make sure I’m using fairly advanced vocabulary. If she asks for clarification I give it to her. Does this make it harder on me in terms of making extra work? Sure, if you call it work. It doesn’t take all that much more time and since I tend to use a certain words more than others, she picks it up eventually. More importantly, she mimics me. Just like any other child, she spits back what she experiences. Just because your child is challenged, more importantly especially because they are challenged, DON’T dumb it down. Just like anything else you do, children imitate speech (as anyone who has slipped up with a ‘S&*)’ at an inappropriate moment knows)

While this tip is probably good for any child I think it’s especially important for our special kids. It’s so very easy to get caught up in needing to do PT/OT, run to a doctor, medication, suctioning, g-tube feedings, insulin shots and sugar monitoring and on and on that we forget that some of the simplest things we would normally do as parents can have such a profound impact on our child and how they are perceived and accepted within society. Don’t short change your child – go read them a story tonight!

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Categories : Education, Strategies

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