One of the things we all love to do with Felix is to get him to mimic our expressions. He picks it up quite quickly. Only the other day, two of his brothers (15 & 17) were sitting either side of him in the car and were getting him to copy them blowing raspberries. It was so cute! They were all laughing their heads off.
Mimicking is a good way to encourage early speech sounds. Kids with Down Syndrome benefit from this even more than other kids, so we try and spend a lot of time sitting face to face with Felix making different facial expressions along with sounds to encourage him to copy us. He is a quick learner and we often find him sitting in front of a mirror repeating the faces and the sounds he has learned.
We allow Felix to lead us too. If he is making a funny face or sound, we will do it back to him. If he claps his hands, we will do it too. If he makes a fish face, so will we. If he says "Dad, dad, dad", we say it back to him. This will continue back and forward until he is bored with it and goes on to something else. He amazes us all the time with his level of concentration and will sometimes play this game for ages.
We have been using key-sign with Felix from when he was very small (Key sign is when you don't sign every word you say, just the most important ones eg. "Do you want to eat?", we just sign the word 'Eat'). Signing is learned by mimicking as well. Over a period of time seeing the same sign associated with a word kids will begin to start using them themselves even before they are able to speak verbally. Felix now uses about 5 signs regularly (cat, dog, more, banana & breastfeed). He has a few others that he is working on and it's exciting to see them develop.
We made the decision to teach Felix to sign because in children with Down Syndrome it is impossible to predict how early or late they will speak or how verbal they will actually be in the future. We want to make sure that Felix has a method of communication he can use to tell us what he wants. It would be extremely frustrating for him (and us) in the future if he is unable to tell us what he wants/feels. In saying that, most children with Down Syndrome eventually do speak well, but speech may be a little delayed initially. So for now, we use a lot of repetition of signs and always speak the word at the same time.
|Happy Birthday Daddy|
Felix will have a chance to mimic lots of things today. It's his Daddy's birthday, so there will be candles to blow out and presents to unwrap. We try to take every opportunity to make each experience a fun learning one. I don't know who enjoys it more, Felix or us?