Welcome to Sookie and Finn's blog! This is our first blog post and I want to talk about how we started Sookie & Finn.

 

Our daughter was diagnosed with a type of childhood epilepsy called Infantile Spasms when she was 6 months old. We were able to stop her seizures with medication and she is fine now, however, as a result of her condition, she was delayed in most areas, most significantly speech. 

 

Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy were our new norm. Of course therapy takes time and the child in question has a single one-hour session with his or her therapist a week (two at best). Ever worrying about what we could do at home, we started looking for tools and techniques that could speed up her development in addition to the weekly speech therapy sessions. Something that would supplement and reinforce speech therapy…

 

However, we couldn’t find anything that was interactive enough that could encourage her to speak. Toddlers are wonderful little learning machines and every day should be a fun learning experience for them. Some films weren't engaging enough. They were far too dry for a two year old to keep watching after the first time. Others were useful especially in teaching sign language but we were really keen for her to try to use speech rather than sign. Yet others were more worried about the physiological processes related to talking rather than encouraging the child to speak in the traditional sense.

 

So that's how Sookie & Finn films were created. We looked into various research journals about what does and doesn't help children to talk and read numerous books about how brain produces speech. Not surprisingly, they all concluded to emulate how a child would learn from a parent. Children are conditioned to learn from an adult - especially an adult who repeats words. Most of the other parts were fairly intuitive such as making the stories very relevant to a child's life, providing lots of repetition, keeping dialogues simple. And of course you need to keep it fun and engaging!

 

Working with our daughter’s speech therapist, Analou Louw, we created the first Sookie & Finn DVD: Our Day. Throughout the process, we were testing all the ideas on our late talker daughter and our 'early talker' son who was 5 years old then.

 

We were filled with enormous joy when our daughter tried to answer the questions in the films by pointing her finger (you may be surprised at this but it shows focus, comprehension and passive language skills and we were really ready to accept any positive indication)

 

Finally when she started asking for the DVD's continuously and starting to repeat the words it was clear that we had to make this available for other children too. So this is how Sookie & Finn started and we would love to hear your comments and thoughts on it here on this page!