• Christina Hunger

Stella's New Skills

Hi everyone! Stella has been chatting up a storm as always and I’m so excited to share some new skills we’ve observed over the past few weeks!

1. Stella uses both paws to push buttons now. Previously, Stella primarily used her right paw to access her device. Over the past few weeks, however, we’ve noticed that Stella will frequently stand in the middle of her board, hit a button to the right of her with her right paw, and then hit a button to the left of her with her left paw. It reminds me of how we learn to type using both hands. When Stella uses both paws, she is able to communicate her messages faster. With continued practice, Stella is learning how to access her device more and more efficiently. We’ve come a LONG way from January when we first put her buttons together on a board. At that time, she wasn't even able to walk between the rows without mishitting multiple buttons! Here's a picture of Stella right when she used both paws to quickly say "come eat."

2. Stella is holding onto information AND responding appropriately. Lately I’ve been wondering if Stella will ever be able to answer questions or participate in conversational turn taking rather than just spontaneously communicating. In typical human language development, answering questions and engaging in conversational turn taking comes after kids are able to use language and say words on their own. Again, in the last few weeks, I’m observing signs that those skills may be developing, woo! Stella is starting to really process to our messages and respond. Here’s my favorite recent example from a conversation I observed between Jake and Stella:

Stella: “Stella bye play.”

Jake: “Where do you want to play? We’ll eat now then play.”

[15-20 second pause]

Stella: “Eat eat park.”

After Jake told her what was happening, Stella comprehended that we were going to eat now then play somewhere. She told us “eat” then where she wanted to play.

3. Like any great communicator, Stella is making sure she has our attention while she talks. She doesn't want to be talking to an empty room! She frequently says “look,” waits for us to turn toward her then says her message, checks behind her to see if we’re paying attention, or vocalizes right before she uses her device. After she talks, Stella pauses and looks at us to respond to her message. These observations as well as the story mentioned above show me how strong Stella’s pragmatic skills are. She’s learning and demonstrating rules of communication that I haven’t even tried to teach! It’s amazing to see the language and social skills that Stella acquires naturally. She just needed the opportunity to learn! I'm so proud of all that Stella has learned and can't wait to see what she does next :)

Do you want to see videos of an adorable talking dog in your social media feed?? Click here to follow @hunger4words on Instagram or on Facebook!

Christina Hunger, M.A., CCC-SLP


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© 2020 by Christina Hunger, M.A., CCC-SLP