Hi, I’m actually rather impression that it’s the last Monday of January and I’ve managed to complete every Living Arrows post. This year I said I was going to be more organised and so far I’m sticking to it. Go me!
Using symbol communication systems
Anyway, this weeks photo is J using symbol communication board (his ‘now, next and last board’). We have used symbol communication with J since just before he turned 2. Just to give you a bit of background as to why we started to use them he’s some history of the life of J.
J was a ‘typically developing baby’ for the first part of his life. He took a while with some of the more physical side but he was quick to start basic babble and words like ‘dada’, ‘hiya’. By his 9 month check he had about 4 basic words (mostly used randomly). He was having issues with crawling but otherwise no cause for concern. But a few weeks later I had noticed J stopped. He stopped babbling, stopped using those few words. Apart from crying and laughing he was silent. I tried not to worry as I know some children go back and forth and with their development.
By 18 months J was still not pointing, clapping, waving or being verbal. He gave fleeting eye contact and was starting to avoid people. I asked for help from the health visitor. She came out to see J and did an assessment which did show J was delayed in speech, communication and social development. However as J was young she just wanted to monitor. I was left frustrated as I know from my job as a SENDCO in early years that the earlier support is in place, the better for the child. Anyway, long story short, after a few more visits and check ups were referred to speech therapy and because of concerns with J’s social development and the start of obsessional behaviour we were seen by a specialist speech and language therapist.
She turned out to be our guardian angel.
She recognised that J was struggling with expressive language. She started us on symbol communication to give J a voice, a way to tell us what he wanted. It turned out to be the best thing that J could ask for. Suddenly he could show me what he wanted. He begun PECS and was quick to pick up stages 1-3 (some days there were stubbornness issues). We used symbols such as timetables, choices boards, now and next systems so that J had back up to language. He could see the picture and process it, then respond in a way any adult would understand.
(PECS book and symbols from PECS UK)
J is now 3. He was diagnosed with Autism last year and visuals are still extremely important to us. Some days he is more reliant than others. The biggest change is the fact J can talk now. It’s selective and not easy to understand but it’s there. It’s more functional now (basically meaning he’ll tell us his wants/needs) but not really used socially or naturally. However get him on the subject of Disney cars or Star Wars and he won’t stop!
We use pecs to help him build sentences and to help him communicate clearly when his speech hasn’t been understood by someone. We use pecs for his choices board so he can see what’s available and request something (using a sentence strip as he is now onto the stage where he has to create ‘I want…’ sentences). We use his symbol cards for timetables and now and next, this helps him to see and process what’s happening that day, and helps him to be less anxious about what’s going to happen after/next.
The benefit is that he can’t really avoid it. When he’s having a meltdown or just a strop then he stops listening. He is too busy processing everything else going on so having a visual is easier for him to see what the instruction is. Of course he’s figured out that he can take off instructions/activities he doesn’t like and thinks it means they won’t happen then, haha.
(This symbols are from Twinkl).
When I see J interact with his pecs or symbols I always feel immensely proud. I love how confident he is and how his understanding is so well developed. It’s given him the skill to recognise things like logos, numerals and lots of letters. He is a very visual learner because he has always been used to relying on what he sees and the fact that the meaning behind visuals doesn’t change.
Other things we’ve been up to this week includes playing in the garden (yey for the bit of sun we managed to see), meal for my sisters 30th and birthday party for J’s best friend. It’s a been a busy one…
What have you been up to? ❤️
Living Arrows project takes it’s name from a poem by Kahlil Gibran, “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” and every Monday we share a moment from our week and invite others to do the same as part of this linky. Click the picture below to see more awesome blogs x