Monday, December 8, 2014

Language and Words

 "Ju-li-anne." She ticked off the syllables on her fingers. I smiled. I couldn't help it. Our daughter has come so far in the last few years. She's almost not the same child. Confident, enthusiastic, a desire to learn and please (most of the time). She reads a lot and well, and appears to enjoy it.

We understand what she says at least 75% of the time.

When she was three we started to realize she was not developing verbally the way the other kids her age were. At first, and along with many others, we believed she would catch up on her own. By the time she was four, not much changed. We hardly understood anything she said and she would get frustrated to tears.

I booked an appointment for a speech assessment.

After a year and half of wondering and frustration it was confirmed that she indeed had a severe expressive language delay. We switched her to a preschool program that provided the help she needed and this carried on into Kindergarten.

Now she is in grade 1. And her speech has drastically improved. Her expressive language is pretty good though there are still some issues with articulation of certain word sounds. But she's not frustrated. Most people understand her the majority of the time. She still needs speech therapy, which she is getting, but without that support I don't even want to imagine where we might be right now.

Language and communication really starts at birth with those harried squalls in the middle of the night: feed me, change me, hold me, burp me. It is the most important part of any person's development and of the stuff we learn in school, quite possibly more important than math and history and science. If we can't communicate: speak, read, write, little else matters.

Grammarly conducted a study in which they surveyed over 400 freelancers to determine what impact writing skills have on a person's career opportunities and published the results in an infographic (see attached image) which was picked up by The Huffington Post.

I recently had a parent/teacher interview with my daughter's teacher. In that meeting, she pointed out how much my daughter reads, and in a way, seemed to imply that I was pushing her. Maybe too far. I explained that she enjoys reading and I don't force her, but when I thought about it after, maybe I have a little bit. Not to the point that we fight: "you read or you're not getting any supper", but more to the point that I encourage it all the time, partly because I am an avid reader, partly because I want her to be introduced to a lot of words, and see them and hear them, as part of her ongoing speech development. I don't think that's a bad thing. I recognize my child has a delay and I am going to do everything I possibly can to help her and support her. Maybe the teacher gets that, maybe not.

I am most definitely not trying to say I am pushing and preparing already for whatever career she may want in the future. I am only trying to point out how important words and language are and how that nurturing needs to start early.

Reading to learn, reading to inspire creativity and imagination leads to writing and speaking to communicate informally and formally.

It's all connected.

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