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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: March 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

The importance of touch

"Touching helps us build relationships with one another."
This is a simple but profound quote from an article I read on the power of touch: Importance through touch.  It went on to say that babies first communicate through touch and crying, and that their needs are met mainly through touch. It got me thinking. Since Ashlynn took longer to talk, she could only continue to communicate with us through touch and crying.  She has pretty good functional communication now, but when she is tired she still resorts to crying or a tantrum to express her frustration. 

Other parents who have kids with apraxia frequently report their kiddos are the sweetest and most loving children.  Generous with their hugs and kisses, they are also sensitive and highly attuned to feelings and emotions.  This describes Ashlynn as well, now.

As a baby, she wasn't as cuddly.  She always wanted down, and would only cuddle with me long enough to breastfeed or fall asleep.  However, she did always need to be touching hands.  Daddy's hands, Grandma's hands, my hands.  When she started preschool this year, the teacher reported she was very loving, which was great; but they were having to teach her to ask for hugs first because not every child shared her enthusiasm for hugs (except the little boy with Down Syndrome.  It's a hug fest when those two get together!)  Holding hands, however,  she can usually get a way with!

Ashlynn holds everyone's hand.  If they hold it back, she immediately declares them a friend. If they resist, she moves onto the next kid.  When she plays with her cousins her age, she also wants to hold their hand.  I have so many pictures of her hand in hand with her cousins and various children.  Not to mention her little brother.  They hold hands in the car on the way to Grandma's house for daycare. 

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Monday, March 10, 2014

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

I love, LOVE Maya Angelou.  I always have.  I was talking with a friend today who was concerned about her apraxic son talking so he can get a job one day.  In the midst of apraxia, in the midst of our children not speaking, us parents all get caught up in the thick, dense trees.  We all, including myself, miss the forest.  In the end, we all ultimately just want our kids to be happy.  We want them to have every opportunity to fulfill their dreams, which is why we cry, worry, and agonize over all the details.  Just recently, I've been kept up at night thinking about how my daughter needs to not only be able to point to letters, but she has to learn their names and sounds before Kindergarten.  Yes, she has one more year of Pre-K, but we already know her attention is an issue and she needs more repetition than most and she has apraxia which means even when she knows the letters she has word finding issues and...and...and.....

and...I stopped myself to remember the forest.  I want above all for Ashlynn to be happy.  This picture is from a shirt she wears that her Grandma Green bought her.  It is her to a tee, pun intended.  She is silly, she is happy, she is sweet, and she is kind.  I think the world needs more children and people like this.  

The political outlook has no time for this.  It's all about Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and more recently, the Common Core.  It's all about test scores and academic achievement.  Teachers are judged on their ability to teach by a test score.  

The world has and will have enough big test scores.  What the world needs more of, is big, happy hearts.  As Maya Angelou says, "people will forget what you said."  In my desire to hear her talk, I was really looking for the feeling of being told, "mommy, I love you."  If we listen close, it's the little hand that reaches out to us, it's in their hug and their big sloppy kiss that they might have because they have yet to pucker, and we know in their tears when we leave.  My daughter's heart is on her sleeve, and in her young four years she epitomizes already what Jesus said in John 3:18  

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  

and defies what Einstein mused on when he said,

"“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” 

Our kids' actions already speak louder than words!! They have learned a lesson in life some people fail to learn.  Though my daughter is talking in basic 4-6 word sentences now, she is still sweet, kind, and happy, and will still hug, smile, giggle, and hold someone's hand over talking.  People don't remember what she said or what she didn't say.  Everyone remembers how she makes them feel. 

 If this is the woman she is destined to become, than I think I can say as her mother she is successful.  

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Necklace giveaway from the author of "Speaking of Apraxia"

I was just contacted last night by Leslie Lyndsey, author of "Speaking of Apraxia." She was looking to connect as mothers who share a child with apraxia, as well as to let me know about a giveaway on her blog right now for this beautiful necklace.   I never signed up to be the mom of someone with apraxia.  I went through worry, guilt, and pain.  One day though, the scales tipped and I started to feel more joy, pride, and happiness.  This blog post is really beautiful if you have time to read, and as a bonus, you may win this necklace.  "Speaking of Apraxia"

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

"She just needs more repetition than most."

Today was Ashlynn's Spring parent/teacher conference.  I don't know what I expect really.  As much as most of the time is spent focusing on her strengths, all that hits me like a ton of bricks is what she ISN'T yet doing. My husband thought I was crazy.  He couldn't come to the meeting today, but read the paper tonight at dinner and told me he felt it was predominantly positive.  Look at all the things she's doing that she wasn't doing last year at this time.


I guess I just hate listening to all the positives while holding my breath and waiting to hear the "but....." 

It sucks.  I just leave there feeling desperate, sad, and worried, no matter how many positives they managed to come up with.

Hearing all the buzz words I've used in meetings before, "needs more repetition than other children" "learns differently" "has a great attitude which is a huge asset"

I guess I should focus on the positive though.  Her strength was in pro-social behavior and she even gets in trouble now for talking too much!  Um, what?  Talking too much??  She didn't even talk to her peers last year in preschool so that is AWESOME.   Her language sample during sensory table was as follows:

I help you?
What doing?
I'm making a pizza to baby.
I like pink.
You have purple.
I sit here?
I play with Austin?
Blue goes right there, see?

As an SLP, this is awesome.  She's four years old and is using primarily 3-4 word sentences.  Still a little behind, but her sentence length is only a little under than what is expected for her age.  This is exciting.  Also, she was SO clueless about her colors last year.  It sounds like she's finally starting to retain them.

The report said "she is understood by most familiar people and strangers can usually understand her if she speaks slowly."  That is also great news!  I need to revel in all of this progress.  Can't I just remember when  I was freaked out she wasn't talking to anyone and all I wished for was that she would talk?  I know....I NEED to....it's just...then there is all the academic things she needs to know now.
She still needs more practice recognizing and naming the letters in her name. She can count to ten and count up to five objects accurately using 1:1 correspondence.

Okay, yay, that's awesome.....except I know by the end of preschool they need to know ALL their letter names and letter sounds, count to 20, and be able to write their name by the time they enter Kindergarten.  The teacher tried to encourage me by saying, "well, she does have one more year in preschool."  and then ended, "but summer is a critical time because a lot of kids do show some regression." 

Yes, yes that's true.  I hope next March at her Spring parent/teacher conference we will be on target.  In the meantime, I am officially off my sabbatical of only being Ashlynn's mom.  She needs me more than that.  I went out and bought a bunch of alphabet cards, foam letter puzzles, and a dry erase board.  I sorted the letters of her name into a bag, and we're going to practice putting them in order and naming them every day.  We're also going to go through the foam letters and name the letter and the sound daily.

I downloaded a kid weekly planner so that Ashlynn can learn the days of the week and each day we can talk about what she is going to do, and then at the end of the day we can talk about what she did. 

I printed out three picture sequence cards so she can practice putting them in order as well to encourage pre-reading and narrative abilities there too. 

I've been depressed today just thinking about all of our hard work ahead, but tonight when I was working with Ashlynn, she's not depressed at all.  She was thrilled to have 1:1 attention from her mama and just attacked it all with her positive attitude. 

So here's to a lot of work, but most importantly, a positive attitude to go with it. 

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