We had to cancel our first SALT (or speech and language) appointment this year because of Boo being ill. He also missed a joint OT/physio appointment. I minded about missing the joint appointment lots, partly because we have been waiting so many months for it. I missed SALT, well … not so much. You’ll know if you read the blog regularly that I find speech and language sessions depressing. I worry Boo has been written off a bit in the speech stakes, despite being young (still not quite 19 months corrected) and making lots of noise/sounds odd words.
Most of Boo’s appointments begin with the dreaded question: ‘So what’s new with Boo?’ Usually I scramble to find a more optimistic sounding way of saying, ‘Um, not much, but I think he’s doing what he could do before a bit better’. But I actually did have something to report for SALT. A small thing, but a big deal. And something pretty special to me. As I couldn’t tell his therapist, I’ll tell you guys instead. Honestly, I think you might even appreciate it more, too.
Drum roll, please: Boo can blow kisses!
Lip closure is something we’ve been working on for some time. And it’s been an odd one for me. You see, I hadn’t really thought it was a big issue for Boo before he started conductive education back in September. You see Boo can close his mouth. He has never had an issue with feeding/eating (for which we are all enormously grateful) and munches away with his mouth closed. But he does dribble a bit when he drinks out of anything other than a bottle and when he’s excited, which is most of the time, he has a big, wide smiley grin on his face. He couldn’t/wouldn’t close his mouth on demand to copy others. In the warm-up at his conductive education sessions Boo and his pals are asked to do some breathing exercises and make ‘ah’ (big, wide smiley face) and then ‘mmmmm’ (lips closed) faces and sounds. Boo just giggles. It is funny. But was he laughing because he saw how daft everyone looks and sounds or because he couldn’t do anything else, I wondered? Probably, I sadly realised after several sessions where he was asked to pop bubbles with closed lips (of course he just tried to eat them), the latter.
Our speech and language therapist also wanted us to work on lip closure which is so vital for feeding and speech. We were advised to start trying to get him to drink through a special cup with a straw and have started to have some small success with this, in that he’ll take a few slurps before biting the straw and triumphantly pulling it up out of the cup with his teeth. But that’s it. So what can we do but persist, like we always do? I started introducing bubbles at bath time and trying to get him to pop them with closed lips, like at conductive education. The result: plenty of giggles, but no lip closure on demand.
Until very recently, that is.
All of a sudden, Boo has started to blow kisses when we blow them to him. It is frankly the most adorable thing I have ever seen and he is mightily chuffed with himself. And in the last couple of days we get them without demonstrating. If you ask Boo for a kiss without demonstrating what you mean he obliges by blowing one right back at you.
When Sissyboo started doing this, I thought it was cute too, of course. But I had no appreciation of the skills that go into making something apparently so simple happen. Boo has had to learn to copy others, to work against involuntary tone and muscle movement to close and open his mouth when he sees fit. And then he has had to learn that the word for that lip movement is ‘kiss’ and if Mummy, Daddy or Sissyboo ask for one and he makes the right mouth shape we’ll clap and grin like buffoons even more than usual.
And this is just the start, potentially. This might be the route to less messy drinking and to new sounds. Maybe one day I won’t just get a kiss, maybe one day I’ll hear the word ‘Mummy’ or ‘I love you’. I won’t take them for granted. That’s for sure.
I love you too, Boo.
Because I am especially happy about this, I am linking this post up to two of my favourite linkys: Magic Moments and Motivational Monday in part as a thank you to two ladies whose blogs help keep me going when things don’t feel quite so magic or motivational.