Date and year are important to me. It tells me the duration of day, month and year that I have worked and grown with the children who have learning challenges in life.
Samantha joined me in mid April 2012. She is of age 6 when she first comes to join my lesson. From outlook, Samantha looks like a normal child. However an experienced therapist or doctor in development needs will see she has a learning challenge. (Special Needs Children).
Her mother has quit her job for the purpose to help to develop Samantha. They travel at least 65km a day to my centre. Wow that is a long distance driving through heavy traffic in the Klang valley, Malaysia.
Prior Samantha joined my centre, her mother has traveled with her to many therapist centres and hospitals for check up on her learning disorder. Yet no one could tell Samantha’s mother on what are the learning challenges Samantha has. What happened to her brain ? Her mother even hired a “one on one” tutor for her. However they cannot see a significant improvement in Samantha.
Oh what a sacrifices out of love, Samantha’s mother made: she left her career to develop her own daughter? I came across parents who can’t accept their own children with learning challenges. Samantha’s mother is a great mom.
First day in centre I look into Samantha’s communication processing. She doesn’t have much vocabulary in Mandarin and not a word of English she can understand. Gratefully thank God I am able to converse in Mandarin and English. My first task will be to see how far Samantha has and understanding of language processing. It will be a great challenge I think.
Abel is such an amazing boy. His determination to develop himself is strong. Abel has improved from being not responsive to become responsive to communication despite his limitations in speech.
There is no short cut to develop a child with speech/communication processing challenges. I have first settled his tantrums by making him relate better with me. Feedback from Abel’s mother, she said Abel is now able to understand communication: eg. whenever Abel saw a toy car in the mall he will ask for it, if his parent don’t buy it for him, Abel will r0ll on the floor. However now Able no longer has such behaviour. He is able to understand what his mother told him. His mother said Abel will only watch the car and then walk away. There is really no standard method to develop a child, as all the children are unique. One has to really blend together with Abel and learn to understand him, then the program and lessons will be designed according to his needs for development.
I noticed the Rebound Therapy has really tuned down Abel’s tantrums. Daily Abel will ask for RT, after RT he will able to blend well into the lesson. Each time Abel wants something I will insist for him to name or say it out. Without saying it out he won’t get what he wants. I noticed Abel really makes an effort to say it out. In the beginning he will parrot what I say. However now he no longer imitates or follows what I say. Abel knows how to use the language and speak the right words at the right time. That shows to me Abel is now able to understand and effectively process communication.
The below is a real life experience that happened in April 2012.
English: Extent of Mandarin (dark green) and Jin (light green) dialect groups, based on Language Atlas of China, by Stephen Adolphe Wurm, Rong Li, Theo Baumann and Mei W. Lee, Longman, 1987, ISBN 978-962-359-085-3. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Samantha came to the centre on April 2012. She has limited vocabulary and communication processing. She communicates in Mandarin. Thank God I can understand Mandarin, otherwise it will be tough for me to know Samantha’s development.
She comes in for the holistic programme which include Rebound Therapy, Communication Processing, Cognitive Development.
A very basic language I give to Samantha is to say I want”, to my surprise Samantha can’t copy the speech. I repeated few time she still can’t copy the speech. I told her mother it can’t be. Even a not-chinese speaking person will copy the speech. Then I told Samantha’s mother to ask Ruth (not a chinese speaker) to follow her say “I want” in Mandarin”. Ruth is able to say it, though she may not understand the meaning. But how come Samantha can’t copy the speech?
After discussion with her mother, we decide to let Samantha learn the language in a relaxed free flow with more interactive in real life. It works amazing well: she is able to say “I want”. Many times; we adulst set up a mock up learning situation for the child to learn speech and the child doesn’t follow. Will this mean the child does not develop speech? My personal view speech is to be in a real life situation in order for a child to learn in concrete manner.
I could recall in an afternoon, I invite Samantha to have lunch, she said “I don’t want”. So that day I provide lunch a bit late for her while her other peers are eating. She will look at her mother. I told her that just now she say “she don’t want”. Then she look at me, I give her a smile in return. Thru this real life engaging in speech, Samantha has learned what “I want” and ” I don’t want” mean. She also aware on how to use both “I want ” and “I don’t want” in a correct situation.
Ian took new steps forward in February 2013. He traveled back to his hometown for the Chinese New Year celebration. His mom told me that Ian is more settled. Last year he was unable to understand instructions and he could not control his emotions and actions.
Chinese New Year celebration – Dragon costume (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This year during Chinese New Year, Ian’s grandfather invited him to see his CNY ornamental decoration. Grandfather explained to Ian that he is not allowed to touch the ornament. Ian’s mother was worried that Ian will create a mess at home or break the ornament. But his grandfather was confident that Ian would not do so. And indeed, Ian behaved very well during Chinese New Year. Ian is now more easy to look after compared to the previous years. His understanding and ability to follow instructions has markedly improved.
When Ian came back from a week of CNY break, I was worried I will have to restart his brain engine, but to my surprise I noticed that Ian is no longer obssessed with animals picture cards also disappeared. This gave me a new room to adventure with him in learning.
Now we begin the journey to discover other words like. eg. stationery. Ian is able to stay focused to learn the names of the stationery both verbal with picture shown to him and the words. His ability to recalls word has again improved. His patience to take turns to play a game has improved too.
The Rebound Therapy lessons combined with all the early intervention lessons has brought Ian to another level of development. There is no short cut to improve a child, we have to be patient to develop a child at his own pace and not to stress and upset the child. When I recall back the year of 2012 when Ian first attended my lessons I truly feels thankful, Ian has gone from an unresponsive and speechless boy to become a boy who can respond and communicate. Great credits to his parents were instrumental of this progress by working hand in hand with us.
Time really flies. Did Ian’s skills improve over time? Many times we look at improvement in the area of academic achievements, school children study and learn to pass the school tests.
Ian is obsessed with animals, he is well versed with the names of animals. However the general nouns like stationery, kitchen ultensils, flowers, days of the week or names of the months of the year are far less to his liking. How to bring him to take an interest in these words?
I have made special learning materials for him, based upon animal related words to be used in a table setting learning environment. I noticed that Ian will attentively follow words and pictures related to animals. However words that are not related to animals will not get his attention. Sometimes he noisily shows he does not like it.
I also observed that when he uses his hands he is able to focus more easily. On plain paper I wrote words such as “fox”, “box”, “in”, “the”. To my surprise, as Ian traces the words I wrote he is able to recite the letters. after he completed tracing those words, Then I construct a sentence out of the words. This activity may seem rather meaningless for us adults, but my objective is for Ian to remember the words and letters and to follow instructions. Out of the words I make the sentence “fox in the box”. Ian enjoys tracing the letters and at the same time he recites the letters of the words.
Feedback from his mother: she said at home Ian spells “box” and says the name “box”. Then his mother said “How about ‘fox’”? Ian says the name as “Fox”.
Different children have different learning styles, there is no “one size fits all” method to develop a child. Ian follow this learning method. When I say “fox”, he will trace the word fox. This also shows he can listen to instructions, understands and processes it. Ian has done well in his development already.
January is the most challenging month for Ruth. We begin to strengthen her understanding of numbers and quantities. Many children are able to count after attending kindergarten class. However some cannot isolate the number and the quantity or they have trouble to count with the concept of quantity. Ruth has the concept of isolation.
However we must develop the concept of more or less, large quantity number and small quantity number. It seem this is a challenge to Ruth. Number is such an abstract notion for Ruth…. Unlike a noun where she can see the object, how can she see the abstract idea of “quantity” in the number if she can’t count? Well, I put the number with the quantity to allow her to see which number is more and which number is less. She found joy in learning. Upon learning I will give her a number without the quantity for her to recall what was taught to her. Amazingly she is able to differentiate which number is more and which number is less. She seems to enjoy the lesson. I guess, maybe for Ruth the lessons I give have to be games, with minimal writing involved and thereby cultivate her interest in mathematics.
There are times when I see Ruth trying to imitate the way I teach the maths class to her. She will take the material I presented to her and introducesit to another student. She seems to know what she is doing.
I remember that two years ago when she first attended the program, she was far behind in her development, Now she has been transformed into another girl. I give credit to Ruth’s father who was instrumental in Ruth’s journey towards development. I encourage her father to take Ruth into real life environments and she learns when her father took her to visit different places. There is no replacement for learning from real life.
November – December 2012.
Beginning this November we have again challenged Ruth. After her improvement in speech and communication processing, I am now working on her writing skills. At the present moment Ruth is able to write the alphabet without having to look at the examples.
I even noticed that Ruth begins to understand that she needs to follow our lessons in a more structured setting, somewhat like what is done in the mainstream schools. So I have established a schedule for Ruth to follow daily in the centre. For the first time Ruth is able to work at the desk for 45 minutes then I take her for a therapy lesson. Then again desk work for another 45 minutes. After that I release her for block assemblies. To my surprise Ruth says “Ummm”. She feels a relief.
She has also improved on her understanding of the material she reads. eg. instruction like “circle the largest objects; color the smallest objects; cross the wrong answer”. Her understanding of language shows that Ruth understands and interprets what she reads and she can convert it into an action to carry out.
As she develops better concentration, her ability to focus on cross movement has also improved. She begin to follow the movements which she was unable to perform in the begining of the year. It comes more easy to her to follow instructions, she can now better control her anger. She is such a joyful girl and with Christmas I give her a present, which made her very happy. She took some funny poses with the Christmas sock and I took some photos. This is a great achievement: she used to run away when someone wanted to take a photo of her.
The basis of success is preparing the lessons in according to her needs. I know there is no standard therapy for working with learning challenged children. It takes a keen observation skill to properly see the child and put together a lesson plan to develop her by stages.
Time really walks by so fast. It is reaching the end of the year. Did Abel attain further development?
Able grew up in a family of a Malaysian father and a Vietnamese mother. At home Able will speak Mandarin. But his speech in Mandarin is not clear when he first joined the programms. However as he grows in the programme, now I can hear what he says in Mandarin. His speech has become more clear.He is able to repeat now what we say compared to the first time he joined us. when he was unable to copy what we say. In such case how can he develop speech, I wonder? I am not just doing Rebound Therapy with Abel, I also enrolled him in an holistic programme in the morning hours of the 3 days he comes. Providing him with lessons that develop speech and communication and sensory processing development.
Abel’s understanding of instructions given in English has also improved.His pronounciation also became clearer. This development indirectly also enabled him to express and control his emotions and frustrations. He throws less tantrums now.
His interest to acquire skill and speech is a plus point to Abel. Whenever he sees a book or picture card he doesn’t know how to name it, he will will seek help.
In December, Abel’s father requests us to help in child care. To my surprise Abel no longer needs someone to feed him. Now Abel can coordinate his movements to feed himself. Two months ago Abel still needed assistance to feed him.. Now he feeds himself. He enjoys his time in learning from us.
Truly there is no short cut to improve learning challenged children and all are unique. We as adults have to accept that they have their own ideas and interests. Improving Abel’s speech skills were the first step. From then on he could express himself and developed his other abilities. Communication is really the most important skill humans have.
Day in day out, month in month out, year in year out. Time really passes by very fast. It is October and soon we will reach the year’s end. I have been working with Ruth since January 2011 and I am glad and pleased to say I have learned much from Ruth as well. Her uniqueness has attracted many people to have compassion on her.
In the centre, lately Ruth will make a little noise when her father sends her to the centre, However when on Friday, my assistant went to fetch her to the centre, she did not make any noise. She was very eager and said she wants to swim. I think she is clever and tries to find her way to make her father take her back home by make noise. However her father remains firm and after her father left, Ruth enjoys herself in the centre.
Drums Cluster (Photo credit: SWARM Sounds)
Ruth improved in following the music lessons: to a certain extent she will even tell the teacher what music she wants to listen to and play and sing. Her ability to listen and to follow shows she can carry out instructions. Music has become a fun time to Ruth and her friends in the centre. I notice Ruth is good in drumming. The movement of her hands are well coordinated with the tempo. She can sing too. She has a good memory to memorise the lyrics.
December. 2012 (part 1)
I have been wondering whether I should share this child’s development in this blog. Finally i made up my mind to share. I was touched by his parents’ love for him. A young couple’s journey of love for their boy.
A little about Jonathan (Nick name).
Age : 3 year 3 months (born in September ). When I first saw him in our centre for some observation, Jonathan did not have the following skills:
- Unable to sit independently. he puts his hands on the floor to support his sitting position.
- Does not response to the environment;
- Does not swallow solid food; het only drinks milk;
- Does not speak;
- Does not walk and is unable to stand
After months of therapy:
- Jonathan is now able to sit by himself with no hand support on the floor, he is able to catch ball and throw by himself. Even if he lays down he is able to get up and sit up by himself.
- Response from his care provider grandma and his mother. They say Jonathan is now able to grab things around him. for instance, when he was near to the shelf in the mall he is able to grab things from the shelf.
- When his mother claps in her hands Jonathan will crawl near to her and shows her he wants her to carry him. Before the therapy Jonathan was unable to respond though his mother claps in her hands to show him she wants to carry him.
- Now if his mother shows him a ball, he will crawl to her to get the ball. If his mother shows something he does not like he will use his hand to push it away.He also responds to children who play balls, he will laugh in excitement.
- Therapy involving his speech organs development has helped him to swallow semi solid food like cereal, eat papaya and banana. This at least stimulates his oral organ development.
- At the moment Jonathan can copy certain sounds eg.. ah mee. mommy, ah wei (his mother’s name), ah yee.
- Weakness in limbs and joints made Jonothan unable to support himself to stand up. Only with adult support he can stand. However after therapy Jonathan is able to stand with support eg. he is able to stand playing at the child size table. I place some blocks on the table, he will stand and manipulate the blocks, He can copy the action adults do. His ability to stand for a longer time has improved. We all hope some day he will be able to walk and tospeak. Let us wait for that day to come in reality
In this therapy progress, his parents’ support and grandma support in development has really improved him from an unresponsive boy to a boy who responds to his environment. It may seem but small steps, but they are important steps.