My little girl read her first book the other day. I was so proud! She's been sounding out words a bit for quite awhile now, but not really putting it together that she was actually reading and didn't have any sight words other than her name. BUT now she has several sight words and is actively trying to decode lots of words she sees in text. Her current sight words are: we, me, be, see, is, you, and, cat, dog, Hannah, mom, dad, I, a, us. Since she wanted so badly to read, but was having a hard time remembering to make the sound of each letter of a word when she was sounding it out on her own (she could get all the sounds and blend them if she had us there to keep her focused), I decided to teach her using a reading method I used to use for my special ed students back before Hannah was born. It's called Tucker Sign and is basically a sign for all the various sounds of the English language. It's not the same as ASL. All the signs for the letters/sounds resemble the letter in some way or have some connection to how it sounds. This method allows the learner to bring in lots of different input into the reading process (they see the letters, make the sounds, hear the sounds, sign the sounds, and see the signs) and shifts the responsibility for decoding an unfamiliar word from the teacher to the student. Since I've started introducing the signs for the letter sounds that Hannah already knows (not covering vowel combinations and stuff yet for obvious reasons!) she's started really paying attention to every letter in a word and can decode much more quickly now. It's also increased her spelling ability since she's aware of the actual letters that make up the words she sees now. One thing that has been interesting is that she will often sign out a word and then once she goes to do the final blending of all of the sounds together to make the word she will completely leave off the first letter. This is something I've never run into before as a teacher. I've had special needs students and other beginning readers leave off the ending sounds or even miss the middle sound, but never the first sound. For example, she will read the word name like this "nuh-ay-mmmm, ame" It's very weird.
Here are some funny Hannah stories for you that I've been collecting for awhile, but just haven't had the time to post. Hannah really wanted a donut hole that I was eating one morning for breakfast. We don't allow her extra sugar except on special occasions because she just can't regulate herself well when she gets extra hyper jacked up on sugar. Anyway, my usual answer to her when she asks for something to eat that she is not allowed to have is that she can't have it until she is older. Normally she accepts this easily and will often answer herself before she even asks me about something she can't have by saying to herself, "when I'm older." Well, this time she waited a bit after I said, "when you are older," and then she turned to me and said, "I'm old now!" and she had this big grin on her face. I totally should have just given her the silly donut hole for being so clever, but I figured it was a bad precedent to start given that I've already been outwitted more times than I can count by my two year old and who knows how much more frequently it'll happen as she really does get older! My second story really helped show me just how I sound to my daughter on a day to day basis. We've been having an extremely challenging time lately with obedience, tantrums, and respect and Hannah has been spending a lot of time in time out and getting a lot of reminders (AKA spanks). So, the other day I caught her playing with one of her baby dolls. This is unusual in and of itself because she doesn't care a whole lot for dolls. Anyway, she had the baby wrapped up in a blanket and was walking around the house comforting it and acting like she was trying to put it to sleep. Then she walked into the living room and put the baby on the coffee table. Then she looked at the baby sternly, shook her finger at it, and said, "Stay there!" Then she turned her back to the doll. A few seconds later she said, "I mean it." Then she quickly picked the baby up and said, "TIME OUT!" and marched the baby over to her time out mat. I heard her from the other room say, "If you get up you will get a reminder." She came back into the living room looking serious and turned to me and said, "She disobeyed." It was all I could do not to burst out laughing at her complete and utter gravity. I asked her what the baby did to disobey and she told me that the baby got off her blanket! All of a sudden she got this surprised look on her face, jumped up and ran into the other room. I heard her say, "REMINDER!" Then I heard her rummaging around in what sounded like her toy kitchen. The next thing I know she is walking back into the living room carrying the baby and is spanking the baby with one of her spoons! I must be a really mean mommy if I sound the way she portrayed the mommy to sound :(
PS. If I ever needed proof that Hannah's therapy is working, all I have to do is look at these last few pictures of her playing with Addie. Not only is she playing with her, but they are in tight quarters and Hannah is not the least bit phased. This really is a true miracle. Social interaction, physical contact, affection for her peers, and no meltdowns. Oh happy day!