Monday, August 30, 2010

Communication - No facial expression does not mean no expression

I will not deny it, having a baby with no facial expression can be hard.  You can't see smiles or smirks or the twitch of their face as they get upset and are ready to cry.  However, Luke has gotten pretty good at letting you know what he wants and what he likes and does not like.  Luke is not keen on new things and when he sees a toy or something he doesn't know or like he will turn away with his whole body or just keep his head turned away and ignore something.  Since he can't move his eyes outward and has to move his head to see side to side it is easy to see what he is noticing or ignoring.  Luke does a lot of flailing and kicking his legs.  I think he does this becuase he is not able to cry audibly and kicking make more noise and gets more attention than his silent crying.  When I am right there with him I can easily see him cry.  He can open and close his mouth and when he cries I think he has his frozen face.  Not that his face is mostly frozen but he will have his mouth open and frozen and the look in his eyes.  Oh his eyes.  His eyes can say so much and then sometimes when you want them to say so much he is just unreadable.  But those eyes can pierce through to your soul and you can do nothing but love him.

Luke has been learning sign language since he was around 5 months old.  He picked it up pretty fast and could sign potty/diaper and milk right away.  Sometimes he is in periods where he will sign a lot and sometimes not so much.  He signed when he had a diaper a lot at first and then didn't for a couple of months and then he did again and now does it occasionally but will still sign diaper if you ask him to.  A lot of his signs come as confirmation or a yes to questions you ask of him.  If you ask him if he needs a diaper and he does he signs diaper, if he doesn't he doesn't sign.  This works a lot of the time and is good.  He also knows suction which is a two handed sign.  His two handed signs all sort of melt together.   Love and all done look similar.  More, book (he learned this as more books and just does more) and suction look similar.  It is sometimes a guessing game and sometimes you have to put his signs in context. He also shakes his head yes and no, but mostly no.  I am trying to get him to sign yes with his hand but it is close to potty and I think they are overlapping right now.  Luke is able to put his hands up when he wants to be picked up and he points with his hand and that is helpfull.   We are still working on pointing with just a finger.

Some sign language resources are "Sign with your Baby" by Joseph Garcia and Baby Signing Time (Signing time as well for a little older kids).  There are also a lot of resources out there on the web and I hear there are some iphone apps for those of you that have an iphone.

Oh and one of the best things in his signing was at Christmas when my parents got him letter blocks that spelled his name.  My mom put them in order and said "L-U-K-E spells Luke" and Luke held his hand out and made an "L".  We were stunned and amazed.  We had been signing Luke his name and mainly the L for awhile with no response from him and this response was totally unprompted.  He may not look it in the face but he is so smart, I may be biased though.  Don't underestimate your baby. 

So bacially what I am trying to say is that just becuase your child doesn't have facial expression and may not move around as much it doesn't mean you won't be able to tell what they want or are thinking.  They will figure out their own way to get your attention and let you know what they want.

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