I mentioned in my last post that Caleb recently received an evaluation for speech therapy. It’s still unclear as to whether or not he’s officially delayed but the therapist gave us so many great recommendations that I figured I would share her tips. Apparently it’s common that kids might allow their siblings to do most of the talking for them. This is especially true with twins, when one twin (ahem, Wyatt) is the “chatty” one. A classic example: Caleb is very content just to sit back in his carseat and suck his thumb while looking out the window during a car ride. Meanwhile Wyatt is yanking on his shoes, then his socks until he’s ultimately barefoot and infinitely more comfortable. He’ll throw those shoes and socks around while babbling and exclaiming “UH-OH!” as if it were an accident.
A few months ago, Wyatt and Caleb had the same number of words, but Wyatt’s vocabulary has really exploded recently and he seems to learn a couple new words each day (oatmeal, waffle, cheese, diaper and Elmo just off the top of my head). The therapist explained that Caleb might be self conscious that he can’t pronounce the words correctly, so he doesn’t say anything. To combat this, she suggested we repeat everything Caleb says, whether it’s an actual word or just a sound. If we repeat things back to him with a proud/happy look on our faces, he’ll make the association that he’s speaking correctly. She also discouraged us from prompting him to say things. I’m notorious for trying to get him to say “Memere” when my mom is on the phone or say “bye-bye” when we’re leaving daycare or the doctor’s office, so this one was hard at first, but I’ve got it under control now.
You know when someone asks you a question and you answer it, but they don’t say anything so you feel like you need to keep speaking to fill the silence? Well, the speech therapist said it’s the same for toddlers. If I ask Caleb a question (and exaggerate the inflection at the end so he knows its a question) and wait expectantly for an answer he’s more likely to same something/anything to fill the silence. This has worked a few times already and I just continue the “conversation” by repeating whatever he says.
When reading books to the boys, the therapist suggested that we get situated in such a way that Caleb might be able to see me pronounce the words with my mouth. This would help him make the connection between different mouth movements and sounds. We’re also trying to point out basic things in their books that they are able to grasp and being sure to repeat the words lots of times while pointing. We take this concept into other parts of our day as well. When brushing teeth or getting dressed we’re always talking and explaining what we’re doing, pointing out body parts along the way. At the end of the day I feel like I’m going to lose my voice after all that talking!
The therapist encouraged us to separate the boys for about 15 minutes once a day so that one parent can focus solely on Caleb and mimic his every move. Yep, his every move. This is easier said than done, especially since every other week, there’s only one of us with both boys due to my work schedule. When we’re able to, we’re told to get down on the floor and move like he does and copy his facial expressions. I tried to do it a few days ago and it’s hard! Caleb is always so excited to be crawling around and engrossed with his toys that he barely notices that I’m copying him. Maybe I’ll try when he’s sitting at the table so he’ll be more likely to catch on. Caleb got some special time with me yesterday when I took him to Costco. He said “Hi” in his cute, high-pitched, sweet voice to just about everyone we passed. Even the most grumpiest of shoppers did a double take and said “Hi” back with a big smile. Caleb also has three therapy appointments (one in Baltimore) and an eye doctor’s appointment this week, so he’s sure to get plenty of one-on-one time with me.
Needless to say our house sounds a little crazy with Shane and I constantly explaining our actions, pointing things out and repeating after Caleb. Not to mention, Wyatt is always chiming in. It’s this type of noisy chatter that I’m sure I’ll miss when the boys are adults and on their own, so for now, I’m just going to enjoy it and hope that Caleb benefits from all of these tips.