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Language Development - A Parent’s Approach

Language Development - A Parent's Approach

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A parent explains their approach to successfully teaching their child with CVI to talk and learn.

"Understanding what a horse is, is the first attempt at teaching Connor how to attribute multiple experiences to one thing, and in turn develop a better informed more complex (right temporal) recognition knowledge. I started with one word, and one experience. The word was simply 'horse' but said very slowly and extending the consonants. I am teaching Connor to talk but it is very early days, however he has been extremely responsive. The word has to easily be connected with the action or experience. The word also has to be identifiable. Connor's processing is slow, so speaking at normal speed is too fast. Most people extend the vowels when speaking slowly, so horse would become hooooooooooorse, which to Connor would be ooooooooooo. Normally when I introduce a new word to Connor it connects with something he already understands, a clap or a bubble for example. With horse, I was taking the next step in introducing a new word with a new experience, which would be challenging. I extended the consonants - the easiest way I have found is just to say the word very slowly without the vowels - it sounds odd but Connor can really connect. hhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrsssssssssss. For some reason I said it with a strong UK West Country accent! I think I just wanted to word to stand out.

I took Connor to his first horse-riding lesson and just used the word 'horse'. The experience and word were at first both new and meaningless, but we had to start somewhere, and after months of building up a relationship of trust, Connor was happy to be taken somewhere unknown and trust me. At the stables Connor panicked, not knowing where he was or what was happening, but once upon the horse it was like he was in a trance. Had he not enjoyed the experience we wouldn't have continued of course, but with this small seed we would start building Connor's knowledge of what 'horse' meant.

Connor quickly connected the word 'horse' with his weekly lesson, and within only a few weeks we were at the stage where the only day the word 'horse' could be mentioned was a Saturday - or Connor would think we were going riding. As Connor got used to the word 'horse' I was able to speak it without extending it, just speaking clearly, and not cluttering the word in meaningless sentences.

Connor's understanding of the word 'horse' is key. In addition to his weekly riding sessions horses feature in many other places, including:

1. On his computer game, a horse walks and Connor recognises the movement from the movement of the horses at his stables.
2. In his stories, one book has a button which when pressed makes a horse sound
3. A toy plastic horse that makes a horse sound

I linked these to the word 'horse', and in his own time, Connor has started to join the dots, and seeks out horse things. If there is a horse sound he is drawn to it, and he recognises the movement of horses.

Guided by Connor and his interests, we are using a similar approach to 'clothe' the words 'monkey' and 'train'."

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