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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: August 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Brain plasticity changes in children receiving PROMPT therapy for children with idiopathic apraxia of speech!

A research article in Brain Topography: A Journal of Cerebral and Dynamics, has a published a new study that demonstrates actual brain plasticity in the brains of children diagnosed with idiopathic apraxia of speech after undergoing intense PROMPT training.  According to the article, it's the first study of it's kind to demonstrate "experience dependent structural plasticity in children receiving therapy for speech sound disorders.

I've been waiting for this kind of functional MRI proof for speech sound disorders.  I've seen the brain imaging changes in kids with dyslexia, and I knew the research for speech sound disorders would be just around the corner.  It's exciting to see scientific proof that therapy works!

Click on the link below to read the full article.

Cortical thickness in children receiving intensive therapy for idiopathic apraxia of speech

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lessons from a tricycle

We bought a tricycle for Ashlynn three months before her third birthday. My husband and I took her to Toys R Us, excited, full of hope and expectation. I had seen two-year old children on Facebook gleefully riding their trikes with big goofy smiles on their faces, and I couldn't WAIT to snap that happy gleeful face on my little girl.
Pregnant with my son, we all left the store and I had visions in my head of me walking to the park, with her riding her trike in front. I would occasionally have to call for her to stop so she wouldn't get too far ahead.............
....but it was me getting too far ahead that night. One year later, with aching backs and frazzled patience, my Ashlynn still can't ride a trike.  She has made progress though and can now not only keep her feet on the pedals, but can also keep them "straight" on the pedals where her heel isn't constantly coming into contact with one of the bars.  As for the actual alternating pushing motion, that is still to come.  

You'd think she would be frustrated, but the opposite is true.  As kids whiz by on their bikes, she happily laughs, giggles, and asks me, "See bicycle mama?"  and then with determination in her face she gets up on her tricycle again, ready to practice. Like most other motor tasks, this one too will take time.  It will be a journey to success, but success will surely be there; waiting more patiently than me.

However, I've learned success is never really about the outcome, just as riding a bike is never really about the destination.  Every bike rider will tell you the fun and the meaning are found in the journey.  The sights seen, the hills climbed, and even possibly the falls taken.  The lesson learned from the tricycle is more than just learning to ride.  It's a metaphor for life, and of one thing I"m certain.  Ashlynn will always be a success because she has already learned: the fun is in the journey.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Nine year old Katie with apraxia sings "Brave" and dedicates it to Ashlynn :)

CASANA has a parent support group on facebook called APRAXIA-KIDS - Every Child Deserves a Voice.  If you have a child with apraxia, I highly recommend joining this group. Sharon Gretz, the founder of CASANA, is an active member, but there are also other SLP's, advocates, educators, and of course parents who care about these little ones.

I recently vented to the group about my sadness over the park incident, but then shared my blog post about hearing the song "Brave" and how it made me feel better.  A parent to a nine year old girl sent me the following note:

when Katie was diagnosed at 2 1/2 with CAS she was 

considered severe and significantly delayed. She just turned 

9. She told me to tell you this song is dedicated to Ashlynn. 


The video is her daughter singing "Brave!"  How awesome is that?  So inspiring for all of us with little ones who are struggling to talk.  

Katie sings beautifully.  All the therapy, all the tears, all the sadness her mother felt are a distant memory when you hear her sing.  Katie found her voice and then some!  Ashlynn loved the video and told me, "sing dood."  Yes, Ashlynn, Katie sure sings good and YOU will too some day :)

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out. I want to see, I want to see you be brave."

I heard a new Sara Bareilles song the other day.  I love music, but I really felt like this song was written for Ashlynn.  It's been a struggle to get her words out.  Even now, the other day at the park she was talking to a little girl appropriately saying 'come on" and "let's go again!"  It sounded more like, "tum on!" and "yet do adain" but she was DOING it.  She was putting herself out there, and REALLY talking.

After a short time, the little girl asked her, "Are you a baby?"  Ashlynn, looking confused, just covered her eyes and laughed at her.  On the sidelines, my heart broke.  How DARE this child say that!!!  Didn't she know how much it took for Ashlynn to put herself out there and talk??!!

Of course the rational side of me realizes this girl is just a kid who didn't mean to be malicious or mean.  But the mommy in me wanted to teach her a lesson.  Instead, as usual, the person doing the teaching was Ashlynn.  As she laughed at this little girl, it was really Ashlynn who had the last laugh.  It was Ashlynn who is so wise despite her challenges.  Much wiser than me.  Shortly after I heard this new song.

"Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.  Honestly, I want to see you be brave."

Ashlynn is braver in one hour than I ever have been in my entire life.  I love you Ashlynn, and I love seeing you be "BRAVE."


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"I see" with DIY binoculars

If you have a child in speech, or a speech language pathologist yourself, you are probably familiar with the term "carrier phrase." A carrier phrase refers to the initial component of a sentence that stays constant (usually a subject and verb, allowing for a fill in the blank at the end (the predicate). Common examples include:
"I want ______."
"I have ______."
"I see _______."
"I like________." 

This list is not exhaustive, but does give you an idea. In the educational arena, these are frequently referred to as sentence stems. 

Carrier phrases are used in a variety of therapy strategies for a variety of disorders. The predictability allows the child to practice learned skills beyond the word level, moving into the phrase and sentence level.  It decreases the cognitive load needed to form a sentence AND remember the learned skills, because the sentence stem, or initial phrase remains constant. In this way, the child can practice their skills at a higher level of complexity (phrase or sentence level) but doesn't have the increased demand to also generate a new and novel sentence.

To practice her words in a sentence I have a great idea that comes from my fabulous and creative mentor Deborah Comfort, who is currently the private practitioner seeing my daughter. She had Ashlynn pick out some fabric swatches from a book she had at the end of the session last week.  For the next session, she had hot glued the fabric onto two toilet paper rolls and then hot glued the toilet paper rolls together side by side. She poked some holes in the top and threaded some yarn, and Presto, they gave a set of DIY binoculars. Using the carrier phrase "I see_____" they practiced a variety of words with targeted sounds at the sentence level. 

Ashlynn loved it of course! It's also more fun than sitting at a table practicing flash cards. As you'll frequently read in my posts, I am a big proponent of multi-sensory learning and this fits the bill. Maybe tomorrow we will take it to the zoo! Great carryover practice and lots of fun!

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