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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: Instant connection with "Ben"

Monday, February 4, 2013

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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