Monday, March 04, 2013

The Picture Dictionary

Today was a superbly awesome day.  Why?  Because I communicated with my son like never before!  Allow me to explain our new method of communication and how it came to be.  :)

In the middle of the night last night, I woke up with an idea.  Wait, let me revise that.  Liam woke me up for a feeding, and during it I got an idea.  

I decided that today I would make him a picture dictionary.  It would be homemade and personalized.  It would involve all the things around our house that are meaningful choices for him.

So, I snapped lots of pictures this morning.  Liam giggled as he watched me, and he looked excited, as if he suspected that something good was going to come of it.

The end result was a 14-page, full-color photo book.  Each page contains one picture and one vocabulary word.  At any given time when the binder is open, Liam can only see two choices.  So I tried to make the two choices somewhat opposites.  For example, one might be a relaxing choice and the other might be a more active choice.  Or one might be an independent activity, where another one involves Mommy.

For convenience, I arranged the photos in a meaningful sequence in how we usually encounter them throughout the day.

His first choice today was to choose between his books or his high chair.  Since I had been holding him for a while before this, I expected him to choose the high chair but was delighted when he reached with both hands for the photo of the books.  So read we did.  :)

Throughout the day, I gave him choices.  If his arms didn't immediately reach out for a particular photo, I watched his eyes carefully to see which photo they beheld the longest.  And sure enough, it worked incredibly, even at moments when I thought it wasn't.

For example, this afternoon, about 5 minutes after I had changed his diaper and had returned him to his high chair with me in the kitchen, he began to cry.  So, I ran for the picture dictionary.  I thought for sure that he'd tell me that he was hungry.  So I gave him the choices of "milk" or "diaper change."

His hands reached for the photo of the clean diaper sitting on our changing table.  Really?  "No way," I laughed.  "You don't need a diaper change; I just changed you!" I said with a smile, thinking that maybe my device wasn't going to work that well after all.  Normally, I hear our boy when he poops, so I felt certain it wasn't that.  Plus, the front of his diaper wasn't full, which you can tell by looking at it.  Maybe he was just reaching blindly.

But then a little voice inside my head reminded me by saying, "Trust him.  Listen to him.  Do as you said you would."

So I scooped him up and carried him to the diaper changing station.  Lo and behold, he had a poopy diaper!  Not only that, but the poop had leaked out a bit, too, meaning that the lower back of his T-shirt was a bit soggy.  Thank God I listened to him!!  I gave him a clean diaper and put him in new clothes.  He was all smiles as I did it, for we had effectively communicated!  So much time was saved and so much frustration was prevented!

Have any of you moms tried doing a homemade picture dictionary?  If so, how did it go?  I plan to add photographs of our family members soon so that we can begin to recognize the faces of the people we love!  This will be an ever-growing dictionary!