When you have a child with a speech and language issue, they have their own way of communicating...their own way of pronouncing sounds...their own way of speaking...and you become very proficient in this new language. This blog is all about "THEIR words, THEIR way"...simple as that.
On her due date, for that matter.
All 6 lbs 8 oz of her.
With the biggest hazel eyes and eyelashes to die for!
My special girl.
With Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Some cognitive delays.
Throw in some Sensory Issues here and there.
My little buddy.
The hardest worker you will ever meet.
A little lover and hugger.
And the sweetest girl you will EVER know.
My second born.
My little man.
Well, I don't think he was ever that little.
All 7 lbs 12 oz of him.
Born 2 two weeks early because he wanted to arrive early.
So he made me pre-eclamptic.
Oh, so sick.
But all is good now.
He has some special needs of his own.
Guess he didn't want to be "different" than his big sister.
So he chose to get my attention.
He chose to have ear infections.
A total of nine in all, over a six-month period.
Throw in a little hearing loss, which he has since regained.
And is now about 9-12 months delayed in speech.
He is my little man.
A little lover.
With a little temper to match.
He's my boy!
Do you know the sound that men make when they are clearing their throat just before spitting? You know the one I am talking aobut! The one that makes you nauseous just hearing it because you know what is coming next? Well....that is the sound that we are working on now. OK, I am exaggerating a bit, but you will get the picture as you read on.
So now I have a word and definition of what Kaitlyn is doing with a lot of her speech sounds that should originate in the back of the throat: fronting. Fronting is when sounds that should be produced in the back of the throat are being made in the front of the mouth instead. For example, "key" may come out as "tea", "car" may sound more like "tar" and so on.
Our private therapist has been working on /k/ and /g/ sounds for the past two weeks. I feel that this is probably one of the most important sounds (in my opinion) since the /k/ sound is in the beginning of my daughter's name as well as the last letter in her last name. However, beit "fronting" or just plain laziness and a rut that she has gotten herself into, my precious little girl continues to call herself "Tay-Tin" instead of Kaitlyn. With some gentle reminders, she will get out an obnoxious "KKKKKKKKKK-Tay-Tin".
At least I know that she can make the sound if I piss her off enough.
There are a variety of ways that you can train/teach a child to achieve that "back sound" in the throat:
1. Tongue depressor. Place as far back on the tongue (but avoiding that gag reflex) to simulate the sound.
2. Dum Dum Lollipop. Same effect as the tongue depressor, but tastes better and you may get more repetitions out of your child (for as long as the lollipop exists!)
3. Lay on the bed on your back with your head over the edge of the bed. Sounds crazy, but it allows the tongue to fall back, thus enabling the "back sound" production to be easier.
Articulation therapy consists of drill exercises and various cues to help the child correct his/her sound productions. These cues may be verbal (e.g. tell the child where to place his /her tongue) or visual (having the child look at the therapist’s mouth or in the mirror) or tactile (i.e. touch; having the child slide her finger down her arm when making the [s] sound. The PROMPT tactile-kinesthetic cueing system may also be used to promote correct sound production. Frequent practice is essential for articulation therapy to be successful.
We use a lot of simple terminology when working on this sound with Kaitlyn. You would frequently hear us say "Good back sound" or "Put it in the back" or touching the front of our neck to remind her where the sound should go. We typically don't say "Good /k/ sound" because she wouldn't know what we are talking about. It's hard to do speech therapy at a five-year-old level sometimes. It's been a long time since I have been 5. I forgot what it is like!
It's hard, but it's working, Tay-Tin. Um, I mean, KAITLYN!
No, IEP Meetings are not fun. They are not meant to be! We recently went through the "mother-of-all-IEP Meetings" on January 23, 2009. It was Kaitlyn's three year re-evaluation meeting, and it was intense to say the least.
It is hard to sit around a table with a bunch of total strangers (although they are your child's teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker and psychologist) listening to how "bad" your child is doing in many aspects of the classroom. Why do they have to focus on all the negative? Can't they point out some positive things she does? Oh yes, I remember now....this is not supposed to be one of those "feel-good, fuzzy feeling" kind of meetings.
OK, so we agree that IEP Meetings suck. But, you have the power to make the IEP Meeting work in your child's favor by following a few simple steps:
1. Go in with an open mind and be prepared. Read the reports and take notes. Organize your thoughts prior to the meeting. Your child has an IEP...so what! Do you love them any less because of it? No!
2. Have a plan. Come in with attainable goals in mind for your child. Make them simple, allowing your child to have that sense of achievement.
3. Don't get defensive with the team. They are only doing their job. Give them the floor and let them explain how they came up with their assessments and recommendations. Then ask questions! Make them answer for themselves, make them accountable for their assessments.
4. With the team, evaluate the plan for your child. Do you think she is getting the maximum amount of minutes to achieve her goals? If not, ask for the max. Ask the team how they determine their minutes. Is there a grid that they follow? In our case, we were told that Kaitlyn was getting the maximum amount of speech therapy per week, but there was no specific grid that they referred to. This was AFTER our school SLP reported how poorly Kaitlyn was doing in all aspects of speech and language. It was rough to listen to what she had to say. Then...it was my turn! MOM vs SLP. I wish there was a camera in the room because I would put it on YouTube. I was completely respectful, but I made my point. If any of you ever saw "The American President", you would see the parallel. Remember the part when President Andrew Shepard (played by Michael Douglas) finally got mad enough at the media that he entered the room and took to the podium and made a statement about his relationship with Sydney Allen Wade? He laid it all out on the table. He made his point. He got the respect that he deserved. And the pinacle of his speech was at the end when he stated "My name is Andrew Shepard, and I AM the President!". That was me. If you know the movie, then you know what I am talking about. If you don't, rent the movie. You'll get it.
OK, so the latest sounds we have been working on are /t/ and /d/. When a typical person says them, they sound easy, right? Well, they aren't as easy for a child with a speech disorder. One of those sounds is voiceless and one is voiced. The /t/ sound is voiceless. The first step in the facilitation of expressive speech is to find some way that encourages the child to produce his or her own voice. The second step is to find a way that directs the child's attention to their own voice in such a way that they are motivated to produce more of it. We are able to have Kaitlyn achieve that sound by clenching her teeth together in a big smile and tapping her front teeth. With this type of cueing, she is now able to produce words like "take" and "top" and her latelst phrase (I can see a cheerleader in our future) "Go Team!".
The /d/ sound is voiced. This one is a bit more tricky to produce correctly. Fortunately, our private therapist has many tricks up her sleeve and Kaitlyn falls for them each time. For Kaitlyn to effectively reproduce the /d/ sound, we have her, again, clench her teeth and smile really big and then ask her to make the /d/ sound. Voila! The more we "ham it up", the more fun Kaitlyn has reproducing sounds and she doesn't realize that she is working.
My, times have changed. Yes, Mark and I still exchange Valentine's Day cards and candy, but now this is yet another holiday for the kids. Just another learning experience and opportunity to try new sounds. Kaitlyn has been working on this greeting for a while: "appy al-chime ddd-ay". How sweet that sounds. And to think that 6 months ago she probably couldn't say all of that. Granted, it takes some cueing to get it all out, but it's coming out!
Happy Valentine's Day, Kaitlyn.
Happy Valentine's Day, Andrew.
Happy Valentine's Day, Mark.
Love has a whole new meaning when you add kids to the mix!
Today, Mark and I went to visit one of the two schools in the district that Kaitlyn will be attending in the Fall for Kindergarten. Since she has a "few" special needs, she would get lost in a "typical" classroom.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the classroom set up. What would it look like? What are the kids like? What are the teachers like? How would these "special children" be treated? Well, much to my amazement, it is an AWESOME environment! They were doing the same things that the typical developing kindergarten kids were doing, yet in ways that were modified for their abilities! All we saw were smiles from the various children.
I think we made the right decision. I know that Kaitlyn will be in the right place! What a great district we live in! God bless Naperville School District 204!