Monday, May 2, 2011

Merging Two Passions Together This Month

I’m actually excited about writing a post to include in Foster 2 Forever’s month long blog hop. The blog is highlighting the fact that May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. Of course this always makes me look at ways to help out to make the foster system a wee bit better where I live, however, this is doubly great because May is also Better Hearing and Speech Month, and since I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, I’m excited that these two issues are highlighted in the same month.

Ever since college ended and I started working in the local public school system, I have been an avid supporter of working to promote children and families in the community around me. I believe the future of my state lies within the walls of the schools I am a part of and I believe the future of our state depends on our ability to care for our own children within our state. So with me and how I’ve morphed in my own beliefs about life and what my life’s work and beyond should be, it includes being involved in my community.

I’ve written about my foster care journey and I will highlight it here and here or you can also click on the “our family story” tab above and it will take you to the same links. These two posts adequately describe my journey with adoption through foster care and I wouldn’t change a word.

What I will add to this post though are some things related to speech/language development as I do know many foster parents worry about it when they receive a new placement, primarily if the child is a little older (2 years and above) and there seems to be limited language skills.

What I can do if I suspect a child in my home has a speech/language delay:

• If under the age of 3, contact your local Early Intervention agency or if you are unsure, contact the local school district or your Pediatric Doctor for a referral or number to call. As a foster parent you can also contact the child’s social worker or your social worker for a referral or a number.

• If between the ages of 3-5, contact your local school district and ask where your child can receive an assessment due to your concerns. If you are a foster parent, discuss your concerns with the social worker and see if the social work or biological family or you or all of the above can sign a letter to ask for an assessment. Be aware that depending on who has educational rights, you (the foster parent) may not be able to sign an IEP for implementation, however, you can advocate for the help the child needs. Always know who has educational rights and discuss with the social worker how the signing of any documentation will go (either the parents will need to also come and sign, or the social worker will be liaison, or the GAL will come and sign…etc. this is important information to know)

• Do not underestimate the power of stimulation and involvement in language through everyday activities.

• If a child has not had the typical exposure to language and different activities, it may take a bit to catch up, however, don’t lose heart, change and language development will happen over time and increased awareness with putting out various language opportunities during the day.

What I can do at home to stimulate language:

• Follow the three A’s
      o Allow
                Encourage the language that is there (e.g. wa-wa for water)
                Speak in short phrases or single words to allow for success in imitation.

       o Adapt
                Give the proper name (e.g. shirt, water, juice, ball)
                Repeat, repeat, repeat (e.g. “throw me the BALL, BALL, yes that’s the BALL)

        o Add
                Add a new idea or expand the utterance (BIG car vs. car)
                Actions can solidify the meaning of the word (baby sleeping…along with the action for ‘shhhh’)

• Engage children in everyday activities

        o Laundry (sorting by colors)
        o Cooking (making a snack is always a hit)
        o Library (always something going on…check your library listings)
        o Outdoor play
        o Creative play
        o Reading time

What I can be aware of:
 Be aware of hearing primarily if history of chronic ear infections
         o Have hearing/speech screenings often
          Be aware that sometimes foster children may lag behind and may need some time with us before making leaps and bounds. Patience and understanding are key

On behalf of two very important areas that I’m very passionate about (Local foster care and Speech/Language) I was happy to sit down and write this short blurb to promote speech/language awareness as well.


Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

Thanks Dannie, those are great suggestions. You never know when something is going to click. My youngest was in early invention until recently. all of the sudden today she looks at her shirt and says, “p-p-p-ink, b-b-b-lack” as she is pointing to the colors, “what’s this”, she says pointing to the green and I say, “g-g-g…” and she shouts out,” GREEN!” She has confidently called EVERYTHING blue forever, and today she gets it….tomorrow who knows?

Penelope said...

What a great post! My 20-month-old is refusing to talk so we've got him in ECI speech therapy. He is saying more now. Thanks for linking up!

Last Mom said...

Awesome! I am going to pass this on to the childcare workers/preschool teachers I mentor.

Chasing Pure Simplicity said...

Hi There! Found you through the blog hop! We're foster/adoptive parents with a child who has a severe speech and language delay. Love this post!

Missional Family said...

We had an interesting time with our older three. They came only speaking Spanish. However, even their Spanish was broken and limited. Drama Mama still struggles with word pronunciation and articulation. We are working hard on our relearning of Spanish these days....she still struggles with even the basic of sounds....which has also carried over to her ability to read/write.

It is a work in progress, but we are getting there!

As a former Head Start teacher, I saw soooooo many kids with language delays. Especially when it came to expressive language. They might know what an object "did" but had no idea what it was called. I just wish more parents, even those with tough backgrounds and limited resources would realize how important it is to talk WITH your child. (vs sticking them in front of the tv to learn how to speak like Spongebob).

Attempting Agape said...

Love the tips for at home. I am a foster mom (also single :)) and one of the most rewarding things - among the many - is watching kids speech explode with help and lots of love.

Keep it up!