Category Archives: Noah’s Courage

Updates on Noah’s Speech and Developmental Progress for his therapists, family, friends, and the curious

Speaking of Swimming – Capturing Language Opportunities at the Swimming Pool

Well, it’s April, which means it’s officially summer (at least here in the Texas Hill Country, that is).  Here summer lasts, oh, about 7 months.  We don’t really know what spring or fall are.

So last week we found ourselves at the swimming pool.  Noah (7 – with Down syndrome) loves the water, and it seems to really open the door to speech to have him in the water.  This apraxia thing is a real booger.  The more he concentrates, the harder he tries, the more his speech falls apart, it seems.  So to have him engrossed in the water creates enough of a distraction that we often get good speech production.

In the water with Noah, I captured every speech opportunity I could, and I want to share some of that with you.

I have 3 Littles who are not swimming independently yet, so I lined them up on the side of the pool while the 3 Middles played in the water in the middle of the pool.

First I had the Littles kick with their feet in the water.  I gave each of them a turn to say “kick” whereupon they would commence to kicking and then “stop” when they would all stop.  A great thing about kids – they don’t demand perfect enunciation or pronunciation.  Noah just had to attempt to say kick or stop, and the others performed on cue.  Very powerful stuff for a little boy who is still deciding just how important speech is to him.

Then it was Noah’s turn to come into the pool.  He practiced signing and saying “I want in water.”  (I said most of those words along with him.)

Once we were in the water, he was happy to say “water” when I asked him what we were in.  He also said “go” to get me to move.  We worked on blowing bubbles in the water, which he loved so much, he was happy to practice saying “more bubbles.”  For this, I asked him, “Do you want more bubbles?”  He said “yes”, and I told him, “Then say more bubbles.” And on cue he said, “More bubbles.”

He gets mighty bold and likes to show off in the water, so I took advantage of this by having him call out to his siblings by name.

When he did something well, I cued him to say “Yay.”

Noah likes me to hold him close in the pool, so although I would push him to kick and paddle with a little distance between the two of us, when I was ready to pull him closer, I verbally prompted him to say, “Hold me.”

Then when it was time to get out and let another Little have a turn, I prompted Noah to say “out.”

When his turn came around again, Noah practiced phrases like “My turn” and “I want in.”

Best case scenario, Noah would be working with a speech therapist in the water.  Next best thing – that would be me.  :)

How about you?  Are you finding good opportunities for speech sessions in unusual settings?

 

 

When is a Bus Not Just a Bus?

You know how exciting it is when you hear your new talker say a new word from the back seat as you drive on your merry way?  That awesome moment when you ask yourself, “Did he really just say that?” and then, sure enough, he says it again.  And that new word that to anyone else is just a word becomes to you the pivoting point that the world is resting on?

Well that happened today.  Just driving down our old country road on the way to the recycling plant.  I heard “bus” in Noah’s unmistakable gruff voice.  No way.  There was a school bus heading our way, but no way could Noah have seen it before he said “bus.”  So then I glanced in the rearview mirror, and sure enough, we had already passed one bus.

I looked over at Leah and said, “Did he just say bus?”

Affirmative.

Well, I hooped and hollered and Noah growled and said and signed “Stop.”  (He hates it when I get all excited about his speech.)

More busses.  “Bus, bus,” I prompted.  More growling.  And then as the next two school busses passed, it was reported from the back seat that Noah was whispering “bus” (knowing Mama just couldn’t help but get excited if she heard it).

Next thing you know, all the kids, including Noah were playing a game of being the first person to say “bus” when another bus was spotted.

Talk (no pun intended) about being in  the right place at the right time!

Raising a courageous hero with Down syndrome rocks!

(Once kids with speech issues start playing games like this, keep the game going by looking for school busses on all your drives and shout out “bus” each time you see one – perhaps the kiddo will join right in, and you’ve just captured a few more word productions for free.)

name tracing 002

Baby Steps Toward Independent Writing – Tracing Names

It’s a joy to hear Noah answer people now when they ask him his name.  It’s an opportunity for him to use his newly acquired speech skills in real-life situations, and it’s a powerful motivator for him to speak.

Reading and writing his name is something Noah has been working on as well.  Tammy’s post here:  http://www.prayingforparker.com/name-activities-for-kids-with-special-needs/ got me thinking about getting more serious about name writing for Noah (and the rest of my Littles).

See how we went from this (Mommy’s handwriting):

DSCN0442

To this:

name tracing 001 name tracing 002

 

Pretty impressive, eh?

Well Noah’s a talented little guy, let me tell you.

What I love most about this activity is that at the end, you have nothing but your child’s work on a sheet of paper.  Truly, I don’t mind giving Noah whatever assistance he needs, but there’s something thrilling about seeing work that is 100% his.

Here’s how to do this activity:  (Since sign language is an important part of Noah’s communication skills, whenever I prompt him for speech, I am using voice prompts and sign language.  If you use sign language with your child, you will want to do both as well.)

  1. Supplies:  One large index card
  2. Tracing paper cut the size of the index card
  3.   Double-sided tape
  4. One thick marker
  5. Several colors of crayon or thin marker (I use red, pink and blue in the script).

You’ll find I maximize the speech opportunities as much as I can in this exercise.  Not only does it kill two birds with one stone, it gives Noah a chance to use speech in real-life context, something that doesn’t happen in our daily drilling sessions.

Directions:

  1. Write your child’s name on the index card in large capital letters.  (Capital letters are easiest for children to form.)  At the beginning point of each letter, place a large dot.
  2. Use double-sided tape to tape one sheet of tracing paper over your child’s name.
  3. Script (Insert your child’s name whenever I have typed Noah):

“We have red, pink and blue.”  (Prompt child to now say each color as you point it out.)

“What color would you like?”  (Child should say a color).”

Hand your child the chosen color.  (Prompt child to say color again.)

Show your child the card and say, “Noah.  This says Noah.” Prompt child to say Noah.  

Point to the first letter.  “N.”  (Prompt child to say N). 

“Good.  Can you put your marker on the dot?”   Prompt child to say “On dot.”

“Good.  Now go down (prompt child to say “Down.”)   (You may have to break down the tracing line by line.  Use speech cues in your directions and make sure your child is forming the letter in the correct order of lines.)

Repeat letter naming starting with pointing to the letter for each letter of the name.

“Good job.”  (Remove the tracing paper.)  “Look.  What does it say?”  (Your child should answer with his name, although you may have to say, “Look.  It says Noah.  You wrote Noah.”

Start back at Step 2 for two more tracings.

This is a great way to encourage real-life speech, color recognition, name recognition and writing all in one fun exercise.  Let me know how it goes!

***If the writing portion of this exercise really taxes your child and prompted speech instruction also taxes your child, do not insist on the speech production portion of this exercise.  Your child may need to use all his available resources to do one or the other for the time being.  Work on integrating the two as he progresses in his abilities.