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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: February 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ashlynn's at four words! Update

Ashlynn is literally making leaps and bounds in her speech.  Sometimes, I feel like we are actually having a mini conversation.  I think the greatest aspect is her being able to tell me where she's hurting, or even tell me what she wants to eat.  She tries to repeat everything now, and even has some sponteaneous four word utterances! 

The past week, her new thing was "too" as in, "Ashlynn go ni night too?"  or "Ashlynn eat dinner, too?"  That counts as four words!  Yeee haw!!  She's also said, "I want more ketchup."

This past month, after hard work from both her SLP's and myself, she marks every final 't' 'p' and 'n' consonant.  Getting to that point though, wasn't easy.  Practicing CVC words, you could see her brain thinking as she groped for the correct sound.  She needed a visual and verbal cue every time.  For example, when saying "hat" she would say,
ha       t.  The pause time could be up to 3 seconds, which doesn't sound like a lot, but is when you are talking about speech.  Now she has it down though!  Such a small step, but so big at the same time!  Having a child with apraxia makes one wonder how we ever learn to talk at all?? 

She puts chapstick on her "yip", and has Jace sit in her "yap."  She puts a "hat" on her head, and drinks with a "sup."  She can tell me perfectly "I want down" and that she wants "out" or to put something "in." 

She also gets tickled by everything and laughs "Silly_____."  My favorite is of course, "Silly Momma" but "Silly baby"  and  "Silly Daddy" are pretty popular around here too.


Instant connection with "Ben"

So, I went back to work this past month.  As I was going through my new caseload and reviewing files, I came across a boy I'll call Ben.  Ben was a nonverbal Kindergarten student in the Spanish classroom with above average intelligence.  Ben had suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  The SLP who was substituting for me, wrote me an email saying, "he has no motivation or desire to communicate right now. I think he doesn’t really understand how powerful it can be for him. He can also be very sensitive and shut down at the slightest moment."  Various assisstive technology devices had been trialed, but he showed no interest in using them beyond a therapy session.  The substitute SLP also told me the teacher hadn't been really helpful.  I consulted with the special education teacher who also reported that Ben seems smart, but doesn't talk in her class either, but that she keeps trying.

Of course, I had to see Ben right away.  

I walked into the classroom and interrupted a reading group to pull him out.  The teacher, I guess not wanting to interrupt her group, snapped her finger at him toward me.  He immediately came over and hugged me.  Ben had never met me, or seen me.  Sometimes though, I think there is just an indescribable connection that occurs between two people, and this was one of them.  I instantly loved him.  We made are way down to my room and he avoided eye contact and as promised, didn't talk.  Once we got to my room, I brought out a beach ball.  I wanted to see if he would try and imitate at least a sound, and I picked 'b' since that is what his name started with.  We tossed the ball back and forth for a few minutes, until I stopped and told him I wanted him to try and say 'b.'  He whispered it, but I took it.  As we played more, we were laughing, and I kept saying "ball" and telling him to turn his voice on.  He finally did!! I high - fived him, and praised him.  He just beamed. 

I got out some simple CV Kaufman cards.  For those of you not familiar with these, these are cards designed by Nancy Kaufman, who is considered an expert in apraxia.  We started with some simple bilabials (p, b, m).  He just imitated the mouth postures at first, but I praised him and told him that was exactly how you make them.  Now he just needed to add sound.  He did shortly after.

After I took him back to class, I decided to change up his IEP.  This kid was getting 30 minutes in the classroom and 30 minutes pullout.  I called the parents to arrange a meeting so I could see him for a short time everyday I was there.

Ben is my little buddy.  I love picking him up.  I look forward to seeing him everyday I go to work.  I'm pretty sure he feels the same way, because when I enter his classroom his eyes shine and he waits in anticipation until I call his name and then comes running.  I promised him I'm going to help him, and I will.

The following week, the special education teacher came running in my office after school.  She asked me what I had done to Ben.  Concerned, I hastily ask her what was wrong?  She smiled and replied, "look at this probe."  It was a paper with upper and lower case letters arranged in varying order.  More than half of the letters had checks over them.  She informed me that a month ago, Ben didn't attempt to say any letters or sounds, but today, he said, or at least attempted over half!! 

The next week she came in my office and told me Ben is now doing choral reading with her during group.  This means that he will attempt to read along with her simultaneously.  My heart smiled so big.  "Thatta boy Ben," I thought, "I knew you could do it."

Since then, we are immersed in full on motor based therapy.  He is so motivated and I am so proud of him.  During therapy, he sometimes holds my hand and looks up at me with these shining brown eyes.  I can't wait until he can say what he is thinking. 

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