Category Archives: Speech Acquisition

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.)

Eat Cookie – A New Two-Word Phrase

Our journey to help Noah find his voice has been so long.  There are days when I feel the effort has been too taxing, and we still have so far to go, maybe we should just rest, retreat and accept that where we are is where we’re going to be for a while.

After talking about two-word phrases for two years now, Noah is finally starting to say them on his own.  Today it was “eat cookie.”  I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I have fought through good days and bad, good moods and bad, days when it felt downright irresponsible to spend yet another 30 minutes on drills and two-word phrase activities that we’d done 100 times before.  I have fought hard for that two-word phrase.  And yet as hard as I’ve fought for it, there is one person who has fought even harder – Noah.  Stringing sounds together to form words and then stringing words together to make phrases is more difficult for Noah than any of us could imagine.  I don’t know if he fully understands how important it is that he learns to do this; I suspect he just understands that it is really important to Mommy that he learns to do this.  That’s why he endures daily drills and endless repetitions of functional phrases like “open door” and “milk please.”  But when he dives for a box and carefully and thoughtfully says “eat cookies,” it leads me to believe he has caught a glimpse on how important it is for HIM that he moves forward with speech.  Oh how I hope so!

In the meantime, it’s cookies and milk for everyone – on the house!