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A Family Uses Language Games to Build Speech Skills and Family Bonds!

Last year, Laura's family adopted three boys from Uganda, and she shares their remarkable journey in her blog. Here she describes how language games have been tremendous tools in helping her boys in speech therapy!

In the fall of 2008, our family embarked on a new journey: adoption.  We were matched with 2 little boys ages 3 and 4.  We were informed the youngest, Daniel, was hearing impaired and the oldest, Jeremiah, had some speech issues.  After much prayer, we decided these boys were to be our new sons--4 sons in all!
 
After several months of filling out paperwork [5 inches thick. yes, i measured.] and obtaining clearance from the US government, a little surprise package was added to the mix. A 5 year old package! We were flabbergasted to say the least, but overjoyed at the addition of a third boy, Alan.  [yes, we thought we were a little crazy but a little crazy is good. right? right!]
 
The summer of 2009 was a whirlwind. We made two trips to Uganda totaling 7 weeks in country.  On the last trip, our homegrown sons Joshua and Caleb, were able to come with us. We were blessed beyond measure they could see where their new brothers were born and the caring home where they spent the first years of their lives.  We landed on US soil September 24, 2009.
 
During our first year home, it was discovered that Daniel's hearing impairment was due 4 years worth of thick, gluey fluid in his ears. A gracious doctor in our hometown donated her services and performed the surgery free of charge. [due to our sagging economy, Jeff had lost his job during our first trip to Uganda].  We were ecstatic to learn that his hearing was fully restored.
 
Over the last several months, Daniel and Jeremiah have begun speech therapy. We have a wonderful therapist who comes to our home twice a week helping the boys learn various sounds, conversational language, and master other goals like categorizing, and responding to questions appropriately.  I have learned volumes from her.  Therapy is game based and that is where I learned about Zingo! and S'Match.
 
Our homegrown boys, Joshua and Caleb, are teens. We had very little in the preschooler game department  Our therapist gave us materials to practice with Daniel and Jeremiah on the days she wasn't here.  You know what that means!  Shopping! 
 
We purchased Zingo! and What's Gnu?  As we play Zingo!, the boys must answer questions in complete sentences such as, "Do you have the house?"  "No. I do not have the house."  or "Who has the tree?"  Daniel answeres, "Jeremiah has the tree."  If they draw a tile they have on their card they say, "I have the heart."  I must confess, that I've never really liked playing games.  However, Zingo! has become a favorite of mine and the boys like it, too.  In S'Match, the therapist is teaching the boys about categories and same or different. She asks questions like, "Are these the same?" Depending on what they've spun, and subsequently drawn, their answer takes some brain power.  They are developing good thinking skills as they observe their cards.  The colors may match, but if the spinner says 'category' they need to look past the matching colors and focus on the pictures. It's a challenge. We plan on acquiring this game so we can reinforce what they're learning from her.
 
We are more than pleased with the progress our two youngest sons are making with their speech, thinking and language skills.  Playing games like Zingo! makes learning tough skills enjoyable for all!  Just last weekend, I caught our teens playing Zingo! with their little brothers.  My heart spilled over with joy.  This first year has been a toughie in so many ways, but we're on the upswing.  And if a game like Zingo! can not only help with language, but build familial bonds as well, then I say money well spent!

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