Noah’s Courage – Words and More Words

Anybody hungry for a What’s Noah Doing Now update?

Well, for starters, apparently he’s been more cooperative in his PROMPT speech therapy lately.  I can’t tell for sure, because I’ve been sitting out

Sitting out?  Yes, you heard me right.

I know, I know, totally unlike me, right?

Long story.

But I can tell you this:  Noah has added several new words to his vocabulary in the last few weeks.  Most importantly, he has made HUGE progress in being able to access on command all those wonderful sounds he can make.  Before we started PROMPT therapy, I knew Noah could actually form almost all the phonemes, but he just couldn’t do it when he wanted to.  In other words, when we would drill using our Lingraphica Phonemes (free) app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smalltalk-phonemes/id384170714?mt=8, Noah could say those sounds.  But later if I gave him a banana and said “say buh,” he often would concentrate, purse his lips and say “puh” or “tuh” or “muh” or even “puh-tuh” and very quickly get frustrated because the sound he had in his head was not the sound that was coming out of his mouth.  When I would repeat “buh,” he would go to a new sound, but it still wouldn’t be “buh.”  If I said “buh, buh, buh, buh,” he often then could say “buh.”  But then go back to banana and have him try to say “buh,” and he would often be unable to.

Very apraxia-ish, eh?

Currently, Noah usually is able to repeat any phoneme I give him on the first or second try, and if he does wind up going down a list of sounds, eventually he is arriving at the right one.  HUGE progress!

Some words that have popped out of my little guy’s mouth lately with prompting (not always pronounced exactly right, but syllables in the right place and main sounds made) – turtle, teeth, cake, bunny, money, candy, boom, and boot.

I’ve also been doing some auditory bombardment with Noah.  I actually don’t have much faith in auditory bombardment in Noah’s case since a huge piece of his issue is oral motor dysfunction, but I have to say I’ve seen him progress greatly over the past few weeks.  I have a sheet of 16 PECs with words like bag, boat, bone, bug, bat, etc.  At first, I just read the words off without even having  him look at the paper.  After a few days of that, I sat him in my lap and used hand-over-hand assistance to have him point to the words as I read them.  Next I said each word and waited for him to say them after me.  As soon as he started resisting, I reverted back to letting him point while I said the words.  Now I say the word and point to it, and he automatically says the word back to me.  So, let’s hear it for auditory bombardment!  (Technically, auditory bombardment uses repetitions of the same words in one session – I did the slacker version – just one but sometimes two runs per session.)  So he can now say about 12 of those 16 words as well.

The big question here is will Noah integrate these new words into daily usage.  “Carryover” is a huge issue in speech therapy, especially in kids with Down syndrome.  It’s great that they can pronounce words on cue, but if those words never make it into their working vocabulary, all that hard work really isn’t doing them any good.  I can report that Noah is using some of these new words.  He is using nana (for banana), teeth, iPad, candy and bear at times without any prompting.  He’s also got some good approximations for “Caelie, Trinity, Abby and Leah.”  I’m probably forgetting a bunch here, but it’s safe to say Noah is still not a very talkative fellow.

My favorite thing that Noah is doing?  He’s been going up to his siblings and tickling them and making a new sound along the lines of “tickle, tickle, tickle.”

Oh, and get this – he’s had about enough of me putting my hands on his face to reinforce the PROMPT tactile cueing he’s getting in therapy.  I make him SOOOO mad.  I think for now I better let Marcus work his PROMPT magic on Tuesdays and I’ll do some hands-off coaching during the other days of the week.

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And the Winner Is . . .

Brandy from http://autumnthroughtheseasons.wordpress.com.  One of my favorite things about giveaways is the opportunity to introduce my winners’ blogs.

So meet my new friend, Brandy, who has been blogging for just a few months about her amazing daughter, Autumn who happens to have Down syndrome.  Stop by her blog and say hello – I’m sure you’ll find a thing or two to love about Brandy, her transparency about issues pertaining to having a baby with Down syndrome, the way she talks about her awesome hubby, and of course her brand-new adorable baby girl.

Congrats, Autumn.  I’ll have your brand-spankin new copy of Bloom by Kelle Hampton to you in the mail in a jiffy.

Blessings,

Alyson

PECs – Photos, Picture Symbols, or Both?

When I first entertained the idea of intergrating PECs (picture cards) into Noah’s communication strategies, it made sense to me to use real photos.  I mean, if I want Noah to know what something is, it just makes sense for him to learn it through a photo of the actual object versus a drawing or symbol of the same object.

Ah, but that was before I read up on Picture Exchange Communication Symbols and realized there is a well-developed train of thought behind using drawings or symbols versus photos.

If you think about it, words are really “symbols” or  representations of an object.  The word is not really the object, it’s just a combination of letters that we learn represents the named object.

Photos are the very easiest way for a child to recognize an object (other than looking at the actual object).  A photograph is a representation, a “symbol” of the actual object.  Photos and real objects are closely linked.   The relationship between the object and a drawing of the object is a little more abstract.  A black and white symbol that represents the object is even more of a distant relationship, and the actual spoken word is the most distant relationship from the object.  When we use PECS, PECs or picture cards (or any other way you want to label them), we are trying to inch closer and closer to recognizing the relationship between words and objects.

Depending on your child’s language or speech issue, you and your child’s speech therapist should carefully consider which symbols – photos or pictures – best support the spoken word/object relationship  to your child.

These days I’m finding that Noah’s understanding of words leaves his ability to communicate those words in the dust.  I dedicate most of my time with him to supporting his speech efforts, but I don’t want to neglect his acquisition of vocabulary, and I definately want to make sure that he knows what each object actually looks like versus just what an illustrated representation of that object looks like.

That’s what today’s freebie is all about.  I’ve taken some of the key words out of How Will We Get to the Beach by Brigitte Luciani and made a matching worksheet out of them.  Whether your child is familiar with the book or not, this matching exercise reinforces the idea that drawings of objects and pictures of objects both can represent the same word.  Simply print off the worksheet, laminate it if you want to reuse it at a later date, and have your child draw lines to match each drawing to it’s corresponding photo.  If your child is not familiar with these types of activities, draw dotted lines to match the objects and have your child trace your lines.  After a couple times tracing the lines, see if your child can draw the lines on his own accompanied by your prompting.  Remember, our goal is success – and it’s our job to give our children all the support they need to be successful.