Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Best Language Toy Ever

A crucial element to the success in using cochlear implants is receiving auditory verbal therapy. Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) teaches deaf children how to utilize what ever usable hearing they have to acquire speech and language. It teaches the children how to listen. Ava receives AVT once per week. What is the best way to teach a child how to listen? Why through fun and play!

While you are playing with your child, you can help her/him increase his language skills and you can have fun together at the same time. It is amazing how an an incredible amount of language can be drawn from the simplest toy. After all, children learn best when they are having fun. A toy that not only promotes language but also maintains your child's interest.

I have been wanting to blog about a really great toy that Ava plays with constantly. It so happens that I think it is probably one of the best (if not the best) toy to use for auditory verbal therapy for toddlers. The toy is the ubiquitous MR. POTATO HEAD. Below are my reasons why Mr. Potato Head is so fantastic:

*BODY parts - Ava learned the names of the common body parts this way. First she learned body parts receptively by pointing when asked "where's the eyes?" Now, when I ask, "what's this?" she can respond orally and name the correct part.

*COLOURS - Ava learned her colours from this toy.

*AUDITORY MEMORY - "Give me the shoes and the eyes"....or "get the red shoes and the orange nose"

*WHAT'S MISSING? - leave the nose off and ask your child "What's missing?" or you can be silly and put the parts in the wrong spot and ask "Do the eyes go here?"

*CHOICE - do you want the ears or the feet?

*LEARNING PREPOSITIONS - "put the ears in", "take it off", put the hat "on" his head, "lay the feet beside the arms", "his hat is behind him"

*LEARNING PRONOUNS - "give the eyes to me", "those are his shoes", "where are your ears"

*SAME AND DIFFERENT" - put on a red ear and and orange ear and ask "is this the same?"


*FUN FACTOR - Ava first received her Potato Head at around 12 months. She is now 21 months and still plays with it every single day.

Ava's AV therapist recommended a really great book called "The New Language of Toys"by Sue Schwartz. It is all about how to use toys to stimulate your child's language skills. It recommends age appropriate toys to use for different age groups as well as how to make some homemade toys. It also has a guide and checklist to follow as to what language goals are reasonable for their age and development. I am constantly referring to the book for new language game ideas. It retails for about $22US.

I bought a used one on Amazon for much less than that.

Happy Playing!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Long Overdue!

It has been more than three months since I posted. Why? Well, other than being a super busy mom running a household of husband and six kids, I really did not have much new to report. I like to use this blog to update all as to Ava's progress. However, I had found that she had plateaued somewhat. Did this worry me? A little, since she was making huge language leaps at 4 to 8 months post activation. Then, after her auditory testing last December, which indicated how remarkably well she is doing, her progress slowed somewhat. But this is not because of her CI's or her deafness. It is normal toddler development. Like in the beginning of her CI activation, she spent most of her time learning to listen and taking in her environment, before producing any words. Toddlers go through this process from time to time, where development is more likely to come in bunches, with plateaus in between. But even during the plateaus, they are always sponging everything in! And the proof is when one day Ava would drop something on the floor and exclaim, "WHAT HAPPENED?" completely out of the blue. Or, "I want TV"..... little two to three words sentences......out of the blue. That kid never ceases to whip out little surprises. Or how she completely emptied her drawers and came out of her room having pulled on pants and a shirt all by herself. She now must decide what clothes she wears along with the shoes. She surprised us by singing the entire alphabet (some pronunciation correctly and some using approximations but the right intonation) as well as the part you sing at the end.."now I know my ABC's"....She loves to dance to music, knowing how to manipulate the CD player. And she loves it when we hide a wind-up noise making toy, and she has to find where it is by only listening to where it is coming from.

Ava also continues to have occasional temper tantrums. When she does this, she pulls her CI's off (along with huge clumps of hair due to the wigtape we use to keep the CI's on). We simply put her in her crib until she calms down, which is about a minute or two later. Then she is all happy and smiling. The tantrums occur about once a day and more so when she is tired. I guess she pulls of her CI's to try to spite us? But we leave them off until she calms down.

When Ava wakes up in the morning, she entertains herself in her crib while waiting for us to get her up by singing and talking to herself. The language is quite clear, even though she can't hear herself. Our AV therapist indicated that this is like when we get up in the middle of the night and make our way to the bathroom in the dark, even though we can't see anything, we automatically know where to go because our brains remember. Just like Ava can speak and sing with her CI's off, even though she can't hear herself. It really is quite amazing.
Ava also FINALLY received the compact rechargeable batteries for her N5's. It is much shorter than the regular length battery container. It looks great on her-you can hardly see that she is wearing anything from the front, other than the earhook. They sent me the wrong colour, hence why the bottom half is beige. I received the dark brown a short time later.