Apraxia – Is there a Time to Drill and a Time to Not Drill?

Noah has been back riding the horses at Red Arena for a couple months now.  I’ve been blown away by his instructor,  Miss Emily.  She adores my little guy and although she is not a SLP, she has worked with him extensively on his speech and is getting great results.

A few weeks ago she told me about all these words he was saying and how he was putting phrases together on his own.

Seriously?

She said he had said words like throw, rock, water, snake.

Again, seriously?

I prompted him to say “water” right there in front of her, and Noah grunted as usual.

“No, no,” she said, “He really said it.”

“Okay, whatever you say,” I thought.  (I didn’t say it outloud, did I?)

So last week at Noah’s session, Miss Emily produced a video.  Proof.  The little boy on the video is not the little boy I know.  He was throwing rocks in the water and asking for more rocks, water, putting words together.  It was like she said.  He said “water,” he really did.

So I mentioned all this to Noah’s speech therapist and asked for his take on why Noah does so well in that environment, but I don’t get the same results.

“Well, Mrs. Dunn, you are Noah’s mother, Noah’s homeschool teacher, and his speech therapist.  It’s probably too much.  Take the speech therapy drilling out of his routine, and just work with him on his school work.  Work on prompting speech from his lexicon during real-life opportunities, but leave the speech therapy to me.”

Seriously?

Okay.  So I horribly misquoted the speech therapist, I’m sure, but that’s the gist  I got.

Seriously?

Stop drilling?  The kid has got apraxia, he’s barely verbal, and he’s 7 years old.  You can’t stop drilling a kid with apraxia.  Everybody knows that.

So I fumed for a few days.  Noah is darn tooting lucky to have a Mom who is willing to drill with him every day.  Stop drilling?

But you know, as I thought about it, I think the speech therapist may have a point.  Maybe.  Or maybe I’m just tired and welcome a break.

But going on the notion that the speech therapist might have a point – Noah actually excels at drilling.  He can make most of the consonant and vowel sounds in isolation.  It’s words and phrases that he struggles with.  I think I tend to wear him out in our speech sessions, so then when I try to prompt speech in real-life activities, he responds to it like its another speech session and resists.  Perhaps it might be better for my wanna-be speech therapist persona to fade into the background and just stick with Momma.

You know, I think what really got me was the notion that somebody other than myself might hold the key to helping Noah find his voice.  I mean, we don’t farm out our kids education, academic or religious, we don’t pay other people to take care of our kids; we feel like we’re wholly responsible to give our children what they need.

So this idea of “leaving speech therapy to the experts” just doesn’t fit.

But I think he might be right.

But I also think, in looking back, that Noah needs different things at different times.  I think he needed traditional speech therapy when he got it at age 3-6.  And I think he needed PROMPT once he turned 6.  And I think he needed the drilling we did over the past year.  But I think, perhaps, the speech therapist was right.  Right now, he just needs his Mom.

So Mom is what he gets, even if Mom is going to still be capturing every teachable language moment she can, even if Mom is still going to be prompting for speech and teaching sign language, even if Mom is still going to be on the lookout for predictable books and opportunities for speech.

What do you think?  Am I caving, or does this make sense?  Where do you think the balance should be between what a speech therapist does in weekly sessions and what a mom should be doing at home?

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Swimming and Kids With Special Needs

Here’s a little ditty I learned from Noah’s (7 with Down syndrome)awesome former physical therapist (Oh how we miss Miss Lori).

Last year I mentioned to Miss Lori how fabulous Noah was in the swimming pool and she asked me if he could climb out on his own.  Ah hah, I thought, she’s wanting him to work on his upper body strength.

Wrong.

She was trying to clue me in on the most important thing we can teach our kids (special needs or not) in the swimming pool.

When it comes to swimming, being able to get out of a swimming pool is the number one most important thing our kids should know how to do.  And it’s not enough to teach them to go to the ladder and climb out.  If they wander into an unfamiliar swimming pool, they may not be able to find the steps or ladder, and they can only hold onto the side of the pool for so long.  Even if your child isn’t able to swim independently yet, you can teach him to pull himself out of the side of the pool.  He’ll need to grab the side rim with his hands, lift himself up, and then put his stomach on the ground and pull his knees out.  (If you can’t quite picture it, have an older child climb out of the pool at the side of the pool and watch how they maneuver.)

Every time you go to the pool this summer, practice this skill with your child.  Good upper body strength is required (I know this because  I can’t seem to pull myself out of the pool – I have to use the ladder).  Your child may need a little boost at first to pull himself all the way out, but try to withdraw your help little by little until he is doing it independently.  It could pay off it a big way.  And if nothing else, it really is a great upper-body strengthening activity.

 

Star-Studded 4th of July Red, White and Blue Cupcake Machine Embroidery Design

Well, despite all the jelly beans I ate, we did make it past Easter, and we’re headed full- steam ahead to the 4th of July.   Here’s my latest machine embroidery design.  This patriotic red, white and blue cupcake is perfect for your 4th of July, Independence Day or Memorial Day project, and perfect for all those in between days as well.  You’ll love the three-dimensional effect of this carefully digitized design.  Click on the link under the design for my store listing.

 

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