Tag Archives: Evoking Speech

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?

 

 

Advertisements

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.)

Free Printables!!! Evoking Speech – Two-Word Phrases

Noah’s receptive language is great; Noah’s ability to make sounds is good, Noah’s use of speech in daily life – not so good.

In my experience with Noah, his confidence in his speech is key to him using his speech in daily life.  Because of Noah’s apraxia symptoms  it takes lots of PROMPT-ing and lots of drill to program in the words we expect him to recall and use later on.  Drilling has negative connotations in speech therapy sometimes because of its lack of emphasis on language and context, but for kids like Noah who have motor planning issues, drilling is appropriate.

We’ve been working on two-word phrases with Noah for the past three years, and we’re just now seeing him put two words together on his own in contexts other than “more      (juice)     “ or  ”   (ball)    please” verbally.  Before now, we would have to model one word at a time and he would repeat one word at a time.

It’s exciting to be moving on from that, and I’ve made three pages of two-word phrase flashcards to share.  The first word in each is blue – Noah’s favorite color to speak.  The second words are words that Noah has learned to speak.  The first three pages of the file are those flashcards.  To use them the way I did, cut them in pairs; in other words, blue/boot should be one card, blue/truck should be another card.  The last five pages of the file have two picture cards on each page.  Cut each of those picture cards out individually.

Two-Word Phrases Blue 02-03-13

Depending on where your child is cognitively and with his speech, you may want to only work on the two-picture cards for a while and just use them as flash cards and visual prompts.  This is where I started with Noah.  I would show him a two-picture card and point to blue and say “blue.”  He would repeat.  Next, I would point and say the name of the second picture.  He would repeat.  Then I would say “Your turn.”  I would point to blue on the card without speaking and he would say “blue.”  Then I would point to the second picture on the card and he would say the word.

008

Doing this just about broke my heart, but I want to share what apraxia tends to look like in case you are unfamiliar with it but are seeing these symptoms in your child.  It doesn’t necessarily mean your child has apraxia, but this would point to a motor-planning disorder

This was my experience with Noah:  Understand, on any given day at any given time, if I point to something blue and ask Noah what color it is (and he is in the mood to cooperate), he says a beautiful “blue.”  I mean, he gets his “L” in there and everything.

With these two-picture cards, I would point to blue and say blue and he would have no problem saying “blue.”  Then I would point to the second word and say it and he would say it reasonably well.  When I went back to the beginning of the card and only pointed to blue without speaking it, what came out of his mouth surprised both him and me.  It wasn’t anything close to blue.  In processing that he was going to have to string two words together, the motor planning for the first word, which he knew inside and out, completely fell apart.  It is so great to see him putting effort into speaking these days, but it is also heartbreaking, because at times like these, he gets very frustrated with himself.  Wouldn’t you?  He knows exactly what to say in his mind, and he opens his mouth and something completely different comes out.  It reminds me of what it is like in a dream when I try to speak and have to put great effort into it, yet I still can’t get it out of my mouth.  His daily existence.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Sigh.

So, we press on, slowly but surely.  After several attempts which involve me remodeling the words, he can usually say the two-word phrase.  I suggest, depending on your child’s ease in verbalizing these two-word combinations, to drill them once or twice a day, starting with just modeling one word at a time and having your child repeat it back to you.  The more times your child pronounces them individually, the easier it will be later when they want to put the two words together and the quicker they will be able to overcome the motor-planning issues that may come into play.

Stepping Up:  Taking this one level further involves using the larger one-picture cards you cut out.  For this activity, place all the two-picture cards face up in front of your child.  Then take one of the larger picture cards, hold it up, and ask your child, “What’s this?”  Help your child pick the two-picture card that describes the picture, and then give your child whatever help he needs to read the words outloud.  You may find this a good time to work on word recognition with your child, showing him how the words on the two-picture card correspond to the words on the one-picture card.

010

When introducing a next-step concept like two-word phrases, it’s important to back off of other cognitive demands like new vocabulary or words; that’s why we’re using Noah’s current vocabulary instead of words in a more predictable fashion.

Now it’s your turn.  What’s been most effective in teaching your kids two-word phrases?