Therapy 101: Ask a question and wait

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Nadine’s Therapy sessions. In my last post, I mentioned that she has low muscle tone, and her weekly Gym sessions does wonders on her.

Another area that Nadine has to work on is her speech and language development. After assessment, she has delayed language skills and delayed cognitive skills. One of the issues is for Nadine to answer WHAT questions. This includes “WHAT do you want for lunch?” “WHAT is that animal?” “WHAT toy would you like?” “WHAT is your teacher’s name?”

For example, if we are at the zoo and we point out the zebras to her. She needs to a lot of time to find the right word for that animal. You see, she had a whole chunk of vocabulary in her mind, but it’s all mixed up!

Many of us have a filing system in our mind. Animals, Food, Colours, People, Things that move etc. For Nadine, everything is mumbo jumbo in her brain. She knows what is a zebra, she knows what is a strawberry, she knows what is a slipper, but all these words are mixed up to her. When we point out a zebra to her, she has to go through all these words in her mind, and match them correctly. As there is no filing system in her, she has to go through a banana/snowman/fish/purple/finger/barbie before she finds the word ZEBRA.

Over time, (before therapy started), she stopped trying. It took too long, took too much effort. Often, she bursts into tears, we give up and just tell her point blank, “It’s a Zebra”. I mean, it’s a zebra, the sun is shining, it is hot, we are impatient. ok. sometimes we help her by asking “Is it an elephant?” “Is it a giraffe?” Or most of the time, Nicole and Nathan would have shouted out ZEBRA! And we think that by jumping in the answer, we are helping. After all, who doesn’t know that black and white striped animals are zebras? Clearly this made her less confident and less willing to try.

But thank God for the therapy sessions. We understand what’s happening, and she built her confidence in her conversations. She can reply much quicker now and she is learning to “file” words in her brain.  In the past, she would just go “I don’t know” after thinking for a few seconds. Now, she spends a little more time, as she has the confidence to answer, and answers correctly! (9 out of 10 times, her first answer is correct. She just needs a bit more time and encouragement)

Now Nicole and Nathan know that when we ask Nadine questions, she has to try and answer them herself. And no one is allowed to say things like “Easy Peasy” or “I know I know”. Every one has a turn at answering questions. We also told grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends around. This helped as they too, learn to ask, and wait.

Kids driving

So now when you spend time with our family, you will see sometimes we are all just looking at Nadine, smiling. You see, my little girl is thinking.

This is part of a series I’ve started – Therapy 101, to document Nadine’s developmental struggles and victories, and to journal my own learning experiences as she goes through hers.

Therapy 101


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