Dylan is an amazing, loving little boy who has been obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine for as long as I can remember. Dylan didn’t start trying to communicate verbally until he was nearly 4 years old, but this didn’t stop him communicating in other ways. He loved movies, especially those with lots of songs and he would hum the tune and memorise the actions to parts of the movie that others wouldn’t deem to be significant. Around this same time, I discovered he loved the camera. I am a nearly graduated photography student, but photography has always been a significant part of out lives, and although Dylan loves being in photographs, what he loves more is taking them. If I so much as leave my camera unattended for a few moments there is no doubt he would have turned it on and started taking pictures of everything that interests him, and then proceeded to show me the images he had taken.
I started to wonder if this is how he was trying to communicate with me in a way other than just grunting and pointing. With the start of school looming, I didn’t want him to stand out as the child who couldn’t talk, so I used photographs he had taken, along with graphical depictions, as cue cards to help him learn, and want to communicate verbally. To my surprise, it worked! Dylan needed more than just an object, and spoken word to help him learn, he was a visual learner who thrived from viewing imagery.
Back to today. Dylan is three-quarters of the way through his first year of mainstream school, and he is doing great! We see a speech therapist every 3-6 months, and although his speech progress is slow, he is still improving! He talks to other children at school (when he wants too), and bosses around his older brother at home.
Currently, Me and Dylan and are working on understanding different emotions, we take turns in choosing the emotion that the other has to create, and then we photograph them! This way Dylan can reflect back on the images if he gets stuck or forgets. Most importantly, we have fun doing it and making our relationship stronger. What I found really interesting during this time was that on some occasions Dylan knew exactly why he was sad on the photograph (he wanted juice not water) even if it was taken a few months prior. While on other occasions, in particularly when looking at images of other people or characters, Dylan expressed his current feelings as that characters reason for that emotion (He wants his blanket).
Until Next Time