Monday 24 August 2015

Assessment @ Articulice Speech Centre

We arrived at our appointment with Leong Yean Ching at Articulice Speech Centre 5 minutes before 10 am and Yean Ching was already there preparing for Chapati's assessment. Whilst waiting Chapati decided to explore the box of toys in the waiting area. He pulled out the stacking rings and started to play with them. A happy little fella as usual!

Yean Ching then came out to greet us, she is a pretty loud, highly excited, energetic and very engaging person. :) She started talking to him and played with him taking out all the stacking rings and encouraging him put them back. She gave him a choice of rings to choose from and he would pick one and put it back. Whilst playing with him, she also asked us some questions like, how is he when he cries? Is he loud or soft? Does he cry gusty loud cries or just whimpers? We told her that he seldom cries except when he wants something and he can get really loud. She then said that children do need to be a little loud and that is good. She then instructed him to put the last ring on to the stack and proceeded to get us to walk to the assessment room and invited him to come along.

She started by playing with him a Fisher Price ball dispenser toy. Very cute with music and it also dispenses little plastic balls with little toy animals inside. She thought him cause and effect. Ie. she would put a little ball at the top, press the blue lever at the side and the toy would then dispense a ball. It will roll out unto the carpet.Took about 2-3 tries and Chapati started pressing the blue lever for a ball.This is really a cute little toy.

Whilst she was playing and talking to him, we also noticed that she would grab him, hug him and rub his arms and legs vigorously. She did it a few times and he didn't seem to disturbed by it. Will have to find out from her why she did that.

After that she wanted to observe the way he eats and drink. I brought for him two different kinds of snacks. One was the remnants of digestive biscuits still in the packet and his Happy Puffs, I also brought his little sippy cup and a bottle of grape vitagen. He happily ate his puffs and shared some with Yean Ching. (One thing I am thankful for is the fact that he doesn't mind sharing.) Then came to drinking. He obviously choose the vitagen and started to drink it. But then he would pull out the straw with his mouth and spill liquid all over the floor. Yean Ching then advised us to try and hold the straw for him and only let him sip a certain length of straw. It was then he started to get a little annoyed and frustrated and started crying because we held the straw for him. He of course threw a loud mini tantrum and after drinking a little but more, he started to pull out the straw again and spilled more liquid around him. It was then I said enough don't drink anymore and Yean Ching promptly took the vitagen out of the room saying that "Mama said no more drink." He stopped his tantrum then. (I think it was maybe out of a little shock because the drink disappeared so swiftly. Ha ha ha)

The next thing she did was to try and try and play little music instruments that needed him to blow into. Ie. a toy recorder, whistle and a little harmonica. They kind of looked like the pictures I found on the net.

The plastic toy recorder.

The toy harmonica was the smallest that I have seen. Tiny little toy and it looked like this yellow one. It was just small enough for his little mouth

She showed him how to play it by first blowing the recorder. He smiled and seemed to be interested in it and asked for it. So she asked him to put in his mouth and blow but instead he happily went around the room asking Papa to blow first, then Mama and then back to Yean Ching again. When she told him it was his turn to blow he refused to do it but continued to pass it around. When she tried to put the recorder to his lips, he started to get really uncomfortable and started to struggle and protest. She showed him again how she put the recorder to her lips and counted to 5. Then tried again on him with the same result. More struggling and protests...he just would not allow the recorder near his mouth. She then used the ball dispenser toy earlier on to bribe him. If he would allow her to put the recorder to his lips, he could press the blue lever for a ball and music would play too. He then let her do it twice or three times but still refuse to put it to his mouth and blow it on his own.

The next thing she tried was bubbles! (He loves bubbles!) She tried entice him to blow some. But once again more struggles and protests. Then she blew bubbles and asked him to pop the bubble with his lips. He seemed to be a little more open with that but he was still a very reluctant little boy.

After that she tried to entice him by stuffing some of his puffs into a chew tube. It looks like this.

She played with the red one showing him how to put it in his mouth and chew. The stuffed yellow one she offered to him. He looked at it and tried to use it as a hammer but of course he would not put it in his mouth or chew it. We tried a few more times but he still wouldn't willingly put it in his mouth or allow anyone to put it in his mouth.

Finally, she told us that she would be putting her fingers into his mouth to feel his teeth and gums and also to do a little mouth massage. She showed him the rubber glove that she was going to use but he didn't seem to pleased with it. So she decided to use her hands instead. She sat him down on her lap and started to stroke his cheeks down to his lips firmly a few times and then promptly stuck her index finger inside his mouth feeling his teeth, gums and massing his cheeks and lips from the inside. He was too busy playing with the ball dispenser toy and allowed her to continue. She then helped him to form his lips into different shapes...and made the noises that accompanied the shapes so that he could hear and try to imitate.

After that she spent some time talking to both Hubby and I about her findings. Whilst we were talking, he started to make different sounds and was happily playing on his own!

  • First and foremost he doesn't seems to have medical issues, autistic or hearing. Very good eye contact and has good physical coordination. In fact, she said that he was a very smart little boy and seems to know that he is not good/comfortable/as developed with his mouth. Therefore when playing with the recorder he would offer and ask everyone else to blow it but would not do it himself. (Really thank God!)
  • His understanding of language and instructions is good.
  • He also learns things very very fast. She observed that she only had to do it 2 or 3 times and he would be able to do it himself. He is able to imitate well.
  • Whilst he is a very curious boy, he does not really want to explore, touch or try something new IMMEDIATELY. Instead he would watch first before doing anything. He is very careful and maybe a little defensive of himself. (Got good and bad I think...)
  • Also he doesn't explore different noises with his lips and mouth like vowels. He has made certain noises before we told her, but she thinks that it is not intentional. More like trying and experimenting and then the sound came out. But he may not be able to make the sound on demand because he wasn't sure how he made it the first place.
  • She also asked about his food and we told her that most of the time he eats porridge for his main meals so she recommended that at 18 months he can eat any normal adult food. So more rice and chunky bits rather than porridge. This is to encourage chewing.
  • We can do the mouth and lips massage 3 times a day to encourage him to be more aware of his lips and mouth and the different sounds that he can make.
  • When playing with him, show him how to make certain sounds and help him by shaping his lips or letting him touch our lips/mouth/throat to see how we make those sounds.
  • We also have to WAIT and try and illicit some sort of response from him instead of just anticipating what he wants. This is important then he understands that we need a response from him.
  • Finally buy some blowing toys ie. whistles, recorders, harmonica, bubbles to play with him and get him used to the idea of using his mouth/lips.
I left the session pretty relieved that there was nothing serious and happy that I am now able to help him to develop better. After all she said that he was still very young, and many people have told me that some children don't even speak until they were like 3 or 4 years old. I was given some notes as reminders and an assurance that I could call and check with Yean Ching if I needed help to confirm that I was doing the right thing to help him.

We spent about one and the half hours there and it was well worth it. The price tag of RM 150 was also worth it. More information can be found on their FB page and for easy reference here is their link
Articulice Speech Centre

Anyway whilst we were driving off from the place Hubby and I started discussing that maybe as parents/grandparents, we make too much of a big deal when he tries to put things in his mouth when he was a baby and even now as a toddler. He picks something up and puts it in his mouth...we go "EEeee...don't put it in your mouth!!" really loudly with lots of expressions and make a big fuss about him putting things in his mouth so much so that he has become a little conditioned about not putting things in his mouth. Maybe we could watch him slowly and calmly tell him that certain things should not go into his mouth. Or maybe just take it out of his mouth and don't make a fuss...dunno la we are first time parents and of course his grandparents would be concerned especially about choking.

So time to try out some of those suggestions and hopefully he will start talking soon!

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