Sunday, December 19, 2010

The new language experience

Three years ago, I was all about language experiences. Every moment of the day had to be filled with conversation. I was creating a language-rich environment. I was teaching my little girl to talk.

I used to read Goodnight Moon just like the speech therapist. I pointed to the fire and said, "hot." After a while Julia would say "hot" so I'd say, "hot fire."

These small accomplishments were a big deal.

When she starting putting words together on her own I would carefully count them. "Gaston shoot the bear," she liked to say. I was sure to tick off each word on my fingers. Four words! She's combining four words.

Julia was catching up to her typically hearing peers.

Now there is no more speech therapy and no need for contrived language experiences. I still remind her to "say all of her sounds" and model the late developing /th/ sound. It's easier for both of us after years of practice.

I've finally calmed down.

We drove through the Hartwood Acres Celebration of Lights last week. As our car crept through the displays, I thought about all the words we were using. A few years ago this would have been looked at as a great chance to expand her vocabulary, but I would have worried that she couldn't hear me well enough in the car. I would never have turned the radio to the accompanying Christmas music because it is too much background noise. I would have been uptight and less able to enjoy making memories with the family.

This drive made me realize that I'm in a good place. I rode around with my little girl and my husband, each of us pointing out all kinds of brightly colored shapes. I just enjoyed the ride.

Julia probably learned something, but I didn't document the instant of that growth. One mission, her speech, has been accomplished. Now there's just all the rest of growing up to think about.

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