This journey with Ruby’s communication has been full of surprises. For a long time we have been using pictures, repetitive labeling, modeling, a communication device, and consistent speech therapy to try to help Ruby develop her speech. For a long time there was little progress in her speech. There would be bright spots here and there, a new word, a request for something she wanted, but we never really gained traction to build on these bright spots.
Now that Ruby is 5 we are really seeing continual progress! She is using the word no sometimes (contesting something she doesn’t want is a huge deal!) and she requests things that she does want! These are more abstract things as they vary based on the situation, not like labeling where a ball is always a ball. I love seeing her grow and that she has more of a voice in what happens in her daily life!
I have been reflecting on what has helped this new development in her speech when we have been trying with professionals for years. Here is the list I have come up with.
- Maturity. I think there is something to be said about her getting older and is more ready for communication.
- Her foundation. All of the years spent in speech therapy, working with her at home every day, he continual exposure to her brother talking to her, and all of this processing in her mind.
- School. She has been apart of a specialized preschool since the day she turned 3. School has given her a routine, work with wonderful teachers, and socialization with other kids her age. She has been so fortunate to have wonderful teachers. I will say when we moved to another state and her preschool went from 2.5 hours a day 3 times a week to full days 5 days a week I was really hesitant as this is a LOT of school for a little girl. However, I did find that the consistency of school has really helped her. I do take Ruby out of school several days a week early for private therapy, but going every day is making a difference.
- Communication device. This has given her access to lots of new words and she is able to explore them, see their pictures and their words and be apart of new conversations in ways that she could not have before. Also a bonus, her teacher asked me can Ruby READ? What?! Apparently there were two instances in her classroom where she found Ruby reading as the only explanation of how she would have known those words. This is still up in the air, but apparently she had worked with another child with autism that was not verbal but could read. This is definitely something I will try to encourage and how amazing would that be?!
All in all Ruby is making fantastic progress and we are excited to see where this year takes us!