For the first few weeks of the program, subscribers have the option of utilizing a series of "Quick Start" videos that allow them to follow a series of videos at a viewing rate recommended by the developers of the program.
Dining at the Gemiini supper club. One of my favorite perks about this program is its encouragement to utilize the videos in group settings. When it comes to therapeutic interventions, if you're not requiring me to apply them in a one on one setting, your program is worth a shot in my book.
If you were expecting a video of Jace welcoming you to the blog and reciting his name and address, you're going to be disappointed.
Week one consisted of forty (give or take) viewings of a video in which he was repeatedly exposed to the vocabulary: fish, lizard, crab, bear and elephant. He viewed picture representations, repeatedly heard the word articulated, viewed individuals saying the word and watched the ASL sign for the words being demonstrated along with verbally spoken.
After forty viewings of the video...nothing. He's not saying anything along with the video. He isn't gesturing along with the video or attempting signs. He isn't mimicking animal sounds or pantomimes of the animals.
Here's a glimpse at what a typical viewing session of the videos is currently looking like:
To be fair, communication is more than verbal expression. So, I also attempted to see if Jace's receptive language skills have been influenced by the video viewing thus far. I made cards using the actual photos presented during the videos and asked Jace to identify individual animals. This was the result...
While I am not here to tell you the wonders of communication have unveiled themselves following our first week of the program, I'm not going to dismiss it either. After all, it's been a week.
Here are a few things about the program I like thus far:
Progress Monitoring: The program expects you to monitor how it's impacting your child's communication progress and gives you the tools to do it. It allows you to add other data as well, such as additional therapies, nutritional supplements, dietary intake, etc. and can produce graphics that show correlation between the information you provide and your child's behavior. It isn't completely objective, nor is it completely ideal but it is an option for maintaining and organizing information.
Collaboration: If you have a subscription for your child, then the professionals who work with your child are included in the cost of the subscription and are entitled and encouraged to use the program during their time with your child. They're also given tools to use to assign video components for your child to view and to record their own feedback, recommendations. The information is all accessible in your account and facilitates a nice option for communicating with the therapists and teachers working with your kid on the topic of the program.
Video Modeling: While there are elements of the videos I think could be vastly improved, I do appreciate that they provide my son who cannot abide eye contact with the opportunity to view the words and sounds being articulated without eyes ever being part of the picture. That isn't something that a speech therapist sitting a few inches from his face is able to do, and it's definitely a feature of the program that he has positively responded to.
In other areas, I don't think it's fair to give an opinion just yet. Like I said, I'm only a week into the program. And, I'm admittedly technologically impaired. So I need some time to determine if issues I'm having are related to the program or the parent trying to implement it.
And a little Pudge action...
We started the program focusing on Jace and, as I mentioned in an earlier post, were drawn to the program due to features we knew would be beneficial for a learner with autism.
We have also purchased a separate subscription for LC (although there is certainly overlap in the content they'll view and, initially, the majority of what they watch will be done together.)
Since we haven't started the program with LC yet, I was able to get a "pre-test" of LC saying some of the vocabulary I know she'll be practicing in the next two weeks.
I'll also stop to note that LC has made incredible progress in her willingness to use her voice outside of the house and with people other than her family members. The talking you'll see in her videos is more than she would typically generate for anyone that isn't her mom (or her own reflection in the iPad). I could still go days without hearing her voice if I don't demand verbalization of her, but she is far beyond where Jace is as far as attempting speech and understanding the role of verbal speech in communication and social interactions in general.
On with the show...
P.S. If you require nipple coverage in your language demonstration videos, this ain't the blog for you. Once LC walks in the door from school the shirt and the shoes come off. We only ask that she keep it Christian from the waist down. So make a note that a fair degree of brown skin and cardiac scarring will be featured in any Gemiini updates from Pudge...much to their delight, I'm sure.
Some questions we've been asked...
What research is available to support the effectiveness of the Gemiini program?
Admittedly, I haven't read any.
However, I also didn't read any research before using Signing Time videos with my kids and those were incredibly beneficial for LC's language development, in particular. But the short answer is, if the research exists I certainly can't point you to it.
Would you be comfortable using Gemiini in place of professional speech therapy?
Hmmmm...a good question. But I think it assumes we can afford both. Or either, for that matter. Our insurance doesn't cover speech therapy related to the diagnosis of Down syndrome. When we did pursue it, I sent my daughter in for a 30 minute session I wasn't invited to participate in. It occurred once a week, we saw no progress at home and it ended with a formal report that referred to my daughter by both the wrong first name and then, multiple times, "Down syndrome child".
Granted, that was one therapist and there are multitudes of others who take more effective approaches in providing therapy to children with Down syndrome and speech delays. But our costs for private therapy far exceeded the cost of the monthly subscription for this program and we didn't have any tools to use at home in between appointments. With the Gemiini program I do have tools to use repeatedly to support speech development during the week. I'm also able to do it in a way that allows me to know exactly what skills to look for as far as generalization beyond the videos goes.
What's the deal with the secret Facebook group?
That's a good question. I thought it was weird, too. I'm assuming, after joining the group, that it was probably a poorly chosen title and "private" would have been a better option.
The purpose of the Facebook page, as I understand it, is to share videos, pictures, questions, etc. that are specific to your individual child. And, if I learned ANYTHING from thousands of people delighting in making fun of a picture of LC eating a french fry, it's that you don't want to be sharing pictures or videos of your kid if you can't be sure who is in the receiving audience.
That said, anyone who is approved to be in the group can invite anyone they like to join the group without consulting an administrator, so it's far from being exclusive.
Would I recommend it for other children with Down syndrome?
Well, I'm not sure I'm recommending it for MY children with Down syndrome just yet. Right now, I do feel like it's a tool for reinforcing vocabulary development and improved articulation. Is it a tool that's worth the monthly subscription fee? I haven't personally experienced evidence of that, so I'm not in a position to confirm that it is. But, again, there are features of the program I haven't attempted to utilize yet and we're still very new to the process.
So, we'll carry on for another week and welcome your questions or suggestions as we do!