Besides his sessions at AAS and PCS (under ICE Programme), I also signed Rayyan up for OT and ST at SPD. He used to go for EIPIC at SPD but since he was given a place at AAS, I had to withdraw him from SPD because he is only allowed to go for one EIPIC Programme at any one time.
Rayyan has OT and ST alternately which means that one week he will go for OT and the next ST and it goes on like that. I very much wanted to sign him up for weekly ST because he has OT in AAS too but due to limited slots, they can only offer ST once every two weeks. I wish that there is another centre which offers ST in the Tampines/Pasir Ris area as distance is a concern for us. I did check with the therapist at SPD earlier and she said that I can try Cerebral Palsy Centre at Pasir Ris. I will check with them but then again, I wonder if it will be better if he just sticks to one centre so as not to confuse him.....decisions...decisions..
Anyway, the session at SPD just now reminds me a lot of his past ST sessions. I remember that after Rayyan's very first appointment at KKH after I suspected that something was not right with his development, I was given a list of ST centres. I called almost all of them and most were like fully booked, too expensive or too far. We finally managed to get slots at Leo Magan and we only went for 3 or 4 sessions because the sessions there were totally fruitless. Rayyan cried for the whole sessions and sadly, the therapist didn't know how to handle him. I think that she was used to handling neurotypical children who has speech problems and didn't know how to handle an ASD child. It was totally traumatising for him and totally depressing for me that at one time, after his session, I just burst into tears when I got home. I felt totally drained, both physically and mentally... I was so, so worried for my boy..
Then came the ST sessions at CDU (under KKH) at Sengkang which were not very fruitful either because the therapist there was inexperienced and the slots were months apart! After that, Rayyan went for EIPIC at SPD and ST was incorporated as part of the programme. He enjoyed going to SPD and the teachers and therapists there doted on him. He was able to go through the OT and ST sessions there without crying and I felt so happy that he enjoyed his sessions at SPD.
Which was why I decided to continue with OT and ST there. Sadly, the therapists are different. He didn't get the therapists that he was used to but he's familiar with the place so that's not too bad. I wasn't around during his first OT session last week but I sent him for his first ST session there yesterday. The therapist who will be working with him is Lydia, a very young, bubbly, animated lady. Yes, I feel that speech therapists should be bubbly, animated, with a clear, loud voice. If not, how are they able to attract the attention of these kids?
Since it was his first session, I sat in with him. The thing is, I know that when I am around, Rayyan will be super excited and will usually not cooperate with the therapist but since we wanted him to get used to the new therapist and familiarise himself again with the place, I was with him throughout the session. There were too many distractions there... the animal posters, the cards on the table, the books... he was super excited and was running and jumping around. Also, the therapist was new and I was around, well, it was a 'triple whammy' I might say! The therapist only managed to get him to do a few tasks and then he was off running or jumping again.
Even so, I managed to tell the therapist his likes and dislikes and ways to get his attention. The therapist, in turn, taught me a few stuffs that I can do with him. These are the three that I must work on with him for now..
1) Rayyan has no problems labelling items (as in pointing to the correct items when asked) so we need to move on to 'functions' now. And the way to do that, I need to talk to him all the time. I need to give him the words. Whenever I am with him, I need to talk about the things that he is paying attention to... For example, if he is looking at an elephant, I will not just say that's an elephant but I will talk about the colour, the trunk, the size, what it can do, etc... Basically, I just have to talk a lot and fill his time with words... It doesn't matter if he doesn't respond, for all you know, he is listening all the time...
2) I must do a lot of 'modelling'... For example, if Rayyan gives me an item, requesting me to open it, I will encourage him to say the word 'open'.. If he refuses, what I can do is get another person to say the word 'open' and give the item to the person. That way, he will know that if he says the word, he gets the item.
3) Reward and praise him for any sound that he makes. If I want him to say something or if he tries to label something but it doesn't sound at all like how we say it, it doesn't matter, just reward and praise him for vocalising. This is to encourage him to vocalise more. We can work on correcting his pronunciation later.
There are others but I think I will focus on these three for now. And actually, I knew all these earlier but was too busy to follow through (guilty mode)..
So I will try my best to follow through now and I really, really hope my dear boy is on his way to saying his first word. You can do it, baby! I know you can!