Fred is Neil's very patient speech therapist. He comes in each day to work on communication and cognitive skills. He brings flash cards and every-day objects. Sometimes he uses things he sees in our room. He comes prepared with ideas, but is able to change his planned activities to work with whatever will catch Neil's attention. Obviously Fred's focus as of late is trying to help him speak. He's been gradually successful in getting Neil to mouth words. Every day he tries to say more words, and the whisper sounds are getting a little breathier with slightly more volume. Of course the goal is to have the sounds come from his throat and it's heartbreaking to see Neil try so hard and not be able to. Fred has Neil put his hand to his throat to feel the vibrations, and Neil will shake his own throat with his hand to try to make the same sounds. Today, gentle Fred got a little more aggressive. He pushed on Neil's diaphragm as Neil whispered the word "baby" and we got sound! It was a one-time deal, but sure gave us hope for more of the same. As it is right now, he tries to talk and we listen and listen, but it's so difficult to figure out what he is saying.
One of the negative sides of Neil's increasing understanding is his recognition of his decreased abilities. So fending off feelings of helplessness becomes another obstacle for this already challenged boy. If he can figure out how to talk again, it will certainly go a long way in making him feel like the young man he is.