Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten!

10. A wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with the family!

9. Seeing the excitement in Andrew's eyes when he saw all the Christmas decorations up in the house while he napped.

8. Kaitlyn's ambition and great hand/eye coordination as she put ornaments on the tree.

7. Deep breath....her left eye is crossing every so often. We see optho next week. I really don't want another surgery.

6. Watching the kids dance to Christmas music!

5. Celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary last week.

4. Back to school on Monday! Yes, we are ALL excited!

3. Having 7 days off this week....lovin' it!

2. Counting down till Christmas.

1. I love my kids!

Monday, November 29, 2010

We're Back!

Happy Monday, everyone!
Hope everyone had a peaceful and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

After a five day holiday-hiatus, we are back.
We had a great time enjoying family, food, and fun.
Just being a family.
Christmas decorations are up.
Kaitlyn had a class trip to a food pantry to finish off their class focus on Thanksgiving,

and Andrew finally got his "big boy bed".

Since we are currently in the midst of the "Holiday Bermuda Triangle" of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, you will see some posts which have absolutely nothing to do with special needs and special education, apraxia, sensory stuff, and so on.
Just plain ole holiday happenings, that's all!

I do have some great sites to share as well as some freebies and give-a-ways coming up soon, too!
So keep reading and thanks for listening!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks!

Although a day early, I want to take this time to reflect on what I am thankful for:

---for the unending love of my husband (um, today is our anniversary!!) and for his support with everything that I do and his support of our children to help them be better each and every day!

---for my two little miracles. My children who are my world and are the sunshine in every one of my days.

---for our health. Stop laughing! I know 2010 has been a crazy year of sicknesses, ER visits, bone issues, pneumonias, bowel obstructions, and so on. But we are healthy and I thank God for that.

---for the wonderful school district that we live in which provides such amazing services to children with special needs.

---for Kaitlyn's current private speech therapist, Miss M. She is amazing and the progress in Kaitlyn is even more amazing! I cannot express how happy we are to be away from that "other place"! If they only knew that children should be a priority and not money!!! Do they not know that money is the root of all evil? Guess not!

---for Kaitlyn's teacher, Miss M. Love her and what she has done with Kate since 2009!

---for Andrew's teacher, Miss J. What an amazing ECE Teacher! That would require a whole new post about going above and beyond!

---for Andrew's speech pathologist, Miss C. She is so good with him!

---for all of you who read this blog, follow me on Twitter (@apraxia_mom) and follow me on Facebook (ApraxiaMom). I can't thank you enough for tuning in everyday to read what I have to say. I read each and every comment and email! Thank You!

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten

10. Prepping for a long day of traveling, but a wonderful time spent with family for Thanksgiving this week.

9. A short week of school this week.

8. More progress in speech therapy!

7. I got a flu shot. I cried. And that was before she even came near me! Yes, I am a wimp! I am a nurse, I can dish it, but I can't take it!

6. Seeing Kaitlyn do a swim stroke that I didn't think she could master at this point. Wow!

5. Homework! I am really happy about this, and so is Kaitlyn!

4. RTIs. Grrrrr!

3. Crazy weather in the Chicago area. 67 degrees, driving rains, and tornados: in NOVEMBER!!!!!

2. Finding great new books about apraxia and special needs and sensory stuff!

1. I love my kids!

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Is Me

Before reading this post, please scroll to the bottom right column and "pause" my music in the light pink box.


So many people avoid talking about God and religion.
I do not.
I am a spiritual person.
I am married to a spiritual person.
We are raising our children the best we can in a spiritual household.
We have sought out and found a religious education class for our daughter to attend.
I am not afraid to post about my faith, my beliefs, and the such.
I still believe that God chose my husband and I when blessed with children with special needs.
Kaitlyn was "diagnosed" with so many special needs.
And, again, with Andrew and his needs for speech therapy as well.
I believe that I was destined to call off a previous engagement to another man.
To wait four more years and focus on my career before meeting my husband.
I believe that I was destined to meet this man and marry him.
I believe that we were destined to live in the school district that we live in...the best of the best to provide what our children need to succeed.
To conquer goals and meet benchmarks.
To defy the odds.
To amaze the disbelievers.
I believe that He gives me the strength to sit in those IEP Meetings and fight for my children without faltering.
I believe that He gives me the strength and wisdom to fight Aetna insurance for continued coverage of speech therapy services for my daughter.
I believe that He is showing Himself through her progress and increased vocabulary.
I believe that this path has been chosen for me and that my work is not yet done.

What do you believe?

Remember, pause my blog music on the lower right column.
Then watch this video.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Rockin' OT Plan!

First of all, my apologies for a bad photo.
My scanner is on the fritz, so I am left with my camera on my phone.
I promise....once fixed, I will rescan and share a crisp copy with you!

If you look closely, you can see a great OT plan in place for capital letter writing (as well as colors, numbers, and shapes).
Each line is a week, so we will be focusing on one to two letters per week as far as penmanship goes.

And I did not capture page two of this form, but in Feb 2011 they will begin to reassess the strengths and weakness of the capital letters and determine if more focus needs to be placed on caps or if they could move on to lower case letters.

Now THIS is a great OT/handwriting plan, dontcha think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Big Book of Exclamations

Sometimes, we have to get back to the basics.
Sometimes, even the most structured home speech therapy becomes too overwhelming and too tedious.
Sometimes, you need to just step back and make it a little more fun.
That is what I did.
The Big Book of Exclamations is an educational book written by a speech pathologist and designed to promote speech sound development and imitation of gestures, sounds and words.
Unlike most books, it doesn't have a story to read.

Instead, along the bottom of each page there are prompts which teach parents/caregivers how to act out the illustrations and interact using gestures, sounds, words and eventually phrases and sentences.
The book is also filled with information intended to help parents understand speech language development and it lists resources for those seeking advice.
A wonderful book for children with typical speech development and those considered "late talkers".
Author Teri Kaminski-Peterson is a board-certified speech pathologist holding the Certificate of Clinical Competence with American Speech and Hearing Association. Graduating with a Master's Degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead, formerly Moorhead State University, she remains active in private practice in Brainerd, Minnesota.
The book is an excellent tool for children with a variety of speech disorders including apraxia, autism, phonological disorders, language disorders, and articulation disorders.
It makes a perfect gift for new parents, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
If you would like to speak directly with the author regarding concerns or questions you may have you can contact her at

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Flip Crayons

I am giving this handwriting/OT thing another try.
A couple of years ago, we were given a set of flip crayons from Kaitlyn's preschool to work with at home.
She resisted.
She got frustrated.
So did we.
So we pitched the little waxy golf pencil equivalent and went back to our regular crayolas.

Big mistake.

Had we persisted and made her work with those crayons, we may not be in the handwriting predicament which we are in right now.

So, it's back to the flip crayons for both kids now.

They're actually kinda cute, aren't they?

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten

10. My daughter's poor choice of "bleeped" words lately.

9. Bite Sticks and how well they work with Kaitlyn's speech therapy.

8. Kaitlyn's improving oral-motor issues.

7. A great phone conference with Andrew's teacher about RTI.

6. A night of scrapbooking and getting a little closer to catching up.

5. Watching my daughter struggle with the breast stroke but really working hard at it and improving each week!

4. Is it true? No more tears in preschool for Andrew?! Really?

3. Finding out that my daughter will be taking up the offertory gifts at her religious ed Advent/Christmas celebration Mass in December.

2. Less temper tantrums from Andrew due to increased expressive language is awesome!

1. I love my kids!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sweet Surprise!

Upon walking into the preschool late this morning to pick Andrew up from his itinerant speech therapy session, I noticed the walls of the hall entry way decorated.

Each segment of wall is about 5 feet in length by 6 feet in height.

Each segment of wall is divided in half.

Each classroom is represented by an cute animal mascot.

Each classroom has artwork by two children.

The photo is not the best since it was taken with my phone, but what a sweet surprise to see my little boy's photo and artwork decorating those walls!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love that school?!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our Time

Its amazing what could happen when you put one child with his Mommy for a little one-on-one time.
Not only does he become the little lovable boy that he is....multiply that by 100!
His speech is better and he has so much to say!
Maybe because he isn't fighting for Mom's "ear time" with big sister.
Tantrums decrease, too.
He holds my hand.
He listens.
He doesn't "fight" what I ask of him.

Lately, Fridays are OUR day together.
After dropping Kaitlyn off at school, we head to a children's museum for some play, exploration, and one-on-one time.
And I can see a difference in him.

It's hard work to keep relationships fresh and unstressed when you mix in a sibling with special needs.
Unfortunately, the other child is sometimes just along for the ride as you focus on the other.
These Friday morning excursions are just what he needs to feel like he is the center of my world.
They are just what I need, too.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Book Worth Reading!

Yet another great book!
This time, it is a children's book about a child with apraxia, and teaches appreciation for diversity
This story is about a little boy named Reed, who is different than most little children.
Reed has a severe speech disorder, apraxia, and it makes his speech very difficult to understand.
The story is told from the vantage point of his sister, who knows fully his challenges and triumphs.
Instead of focusing exclusively on what Reed is unable to do, the story portrays the many things he can do with his peers despite his inability to speak to them.
"My Brother is Very Special", by author Amy May, gently teaches young children about acceptance in a way that they can developmentally understand.

You can order your copy here!

And, you can get to know the author here!
Thanks for supporting CASANA and those children who suffer from apraxia of speech!

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Because We are ALWAYS on the go....

...there is "Talking on the Go".
All parents and caregivers, no matter how busy, want to provide their children with the most stimulating environment for learning and using language.
A trip to the supermarket,
taking a ride,
playing outside,
or doing everyday activities at home provide great opportunities for developing speech and language skills.

Talking On the Go is loaded with everyday activities to enhance speech and language development in four major areas:
* building vocabulary
* listening and speech production
* reading and writing readiness
* participation in conversations

Durable and easy to use, Talking On the Go offers simple and fun suggestions for parents and caregivers to use in a variety of settings.
Activities are geared for children from birth through age five.
It is written by two SLPs with advanced degrees, too!

You can order your book here through ASHA, or via http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Go-Everyday-Activities-Development/dp/158041205X

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Top Ten

10. A great Parent-Teacher conference for Andrew.

9. An even greater Parent-Teacher conference for Kaitlyn.

8. A Thomas the Train and a Skeleton who really enjoyed their Halloween.

7. The recent language explosion as of late.

6. Balancing my emotions with RTIs (Response To Intervention).

5. A Grandfather's method of speech therapy: priceless.

4. The increase of inclusion time for Kaitlyn. More details coming to a blog near you soon!

3. Is it true? Can Andrew be adjusting to his preschool schedule finally??? *Holding my breath*

2. Deadlines and details. *sigh*

1. I love my kids!

Monday, November 8, 2010

RTI (Response To Intervention)

This is what we are doing now for Andrew in regards to his communication in the classroom.
I want push-in minutes for his speech therapy services.
I want them now.
However, we have a certain "path" that we need to follow prior to this taking effect.
Which means I have to wait.
I have to go through all of these interventions.
I have to let data be collected.
I have to stay in contact with his teacher, Miss F.

I have to wait.


Did I mention that I do not like to wait?
As per our Parent-Teacher Conferences last week, we both (his teacher and I) know that a change needs to be made.
This needs to be addressed.
But our hands are tied at this point due to bureaucratic baby steps that we need to take.
Each rung of the ladder needs to have both feet on them prior to making any changes.

Well, if that's the case, then I will have to "up my game".
I know my son.
I know what he needs.
I know the steps that I have to take.
And I am pretty good with phone calls and emails.
Luckily, the teacher and I are on the same frustrated team.
So that is why I am giving them until Jan 31, 2011 to go through all of their RTI stuff.
Because come Feb 1st, I will be sending LOTS of letters and emails and making plenty of phone calls.

In education, Response To Intervention (commonly abbreviated RTI or RtI) is a method of academic intervention used in the United States which is designed to provide early, effective assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. Response to intervention was also designed to function as one part of a data-based process of identifying learning disabilities. This method can be used at the group and individual level. The RTI method has been developed by proponents as an alternative to identifying learning disabilities with the ability-achievement discrepancy model, which requires children to exhibit a discrepancy between their ability, often measured by Intelligence Quotient|IQ testing and academic achievement as measured by their grades and standardized testing. Further, proponents claim that the RTI process brings more clarity to the Specific Learning Disability (SLD) category of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) while opponents claim that RTI does not identify SLD (usually called LD) but instead identifies low achieving students. Proponents of RTI sometimes state that SLD (LD) has been referred to as a residual category for children with moderate learning problems.[1] while opponents of RTI as a method of identifying LD, and others view LD as a valid construct supported by practice and more recent scientific studies of the functioning of the brain.

RTI seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty. Students who do not show a response to effective interventions are likely (or, more likely than students who respond) to have biologically-based learning disabilities and to be in need of special education.[2]

According to Wrightslaw, you can read about it here.

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grandpa's Speech Therapy

A gorgeous Saturday afternoon is suburban Chicago.
A vast, open forest preserve.
One big, bright sun.
One grandfather.
Two grandchildren.
Two walking sticks.

One amazing speech session!

Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

He is SO over it!

His fear, avoidance, and sensory issues with finger paints!


Even allowing himself to "dot" his own nose with paint!

This is a huge bonus and a major milestone!

Now....what do we conquer next??

Friday, November 5, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Kaitlyn

So I was silly enough to schedule two Parent-Teacher Conferences in the same morning.
Some would say "Oh, that's not so bad!"
But on the contrary, it is bad when you have to bring your children along as there are no sitters available to discuss their progress and IEP goals, benchmarks, and strategies.
Luckily, both classrooms had sufficient items to keep said children busy and quiet, and I was able to complete this task.

So Kaitlyn's conference went very well.
And when I say very well, I mean VERY well.
It is nice to hear all of the positive feedback when you are sitting with a group of professionals which treat and teach your child with special needs in a self-contained setting:
  • participates in group times
  • aware of peers and others and uses scripts to interact
  • nice progress during desk work and independent tasks
  • demonstrates increasing awareness of words and pre-reading skills
  • increased overall intelligibility
  • excited about increased opportunities for time in general ed homeroom
  • follows daily routines with occasional visual/verbal prompts
  • eager to please
  • social and motivated by peers
  • follows peer models during current inclusive opportunities
  • beginning to demonstrate the ability to generalize skills from small group to larger group settings
  • demonstrates strong cognitive/academic awareness
  • pays attention to facial expressions
  • enjoys being part of the group
  • nice participation during structured group times
  • enjoys being part of the group
  • overall vocabulary and speech is improving
  • demonstrate letter/sound awareness
  • upper and lower case letter recognition
  • identifies and sequences numbers
  • beginning to identify sight words
  • beginning to identify money and time concepts
  • able to recognize her own and the names of others in the classroom
  • writing her name with prompts.

Now this is what a parent of a child with special needs LOVES to hear!

Yes, we are in the right place.

Thank you, God, for leading us this way!

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Andrew's Turn

I am not a fan of conferences with teachers.
In my opinion, its a lot of fluffy opening statements followed by a huge SLAM!
Then more fluff to make you forget the slam.
But this is just my opinion.
On Tuesday morning, we had Parent-Teacher Conferences for Andrew.
Let's make no mistake: we love his teacher.
She is by far the most loving, understanding, incredibly creative lady that I have met at that preschool.
She has a genuine concern for my son and really went out of her way to make his rough adjustment a little easier.
However, we are still adjusting and this is taking longer than any of us thought.
But she didn't tell me anything that I didn't know.

He is quiet in school.
He doesn't socialize without prompts from adults with the other children as willingly as his classmates.
He will "amuse" them and sit on the potty, although he won't do anything on the potty.
He has a short attention span for story time.
He likes music.
He likes dancing.
His pre-writing skills and cutting a good.
He is learning the routine very well.

All of this in knew.
So there was no "fluff" and "slam" going on at this particular conference.

He is still receiving his 90 minutes of itinerant speech services.
However, I think we are wasting our time in that arena.
He needs his services IN the classroom where he is lacking, not in a room upstairs with an adult.
He needs his services IN the classroom where his peers are.

But I know how the game is played, and I told the teacher this as well.
I'll play the game.
I'll go along with all the approaches and alternatives.
I'll take the appropriate steps.
And I told her that I would give it until Feb 2011.

And that is when I will call a meeting.
Yes, an IEP Meeting.
Because this is a child-centered decision.

But we truly LOVE his teacher and all the work that she is putting into making Andrew feel comfortable and in his own skin there.

Thank you, Miss F. for going above and beyond.
You truly are a Golden Apple!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Conference Call with OT: Take One

And one phone call was all it took.

Thank you.

I was able to explain my frustrations with the lack of progress in the OT arena.
The lack of improvement in writing.
The lack of desire to perform.
The lack of anything positive OT related.

So our 45 minute phone call hashed out everything and we came to one conclusion: let's get back to the basics.
Reviewing Kate's IEP from January 2010 had her writing goals and benchmarks way too fast.
WAAAAAAAY to fast.
So fast that here we are in November 2010 and she has not fully achieved the goals that were set for March 2010.
However, they just kept truckin' along and pushing more onto her without regards to her sense of success with the previous goals.

My answer to that: let's go back to the basics.
Translated, we are going back to the original March 2010 goal.
We are starting all over.
And we are S-L-O-W-I-N-G things down.


This way, my daughter can have a sense of control and also experience successes.
Because that is what IEPs are all about, right?
Achieving goals and celebrating successes.

It's great to have team players on board, isn't it?
I love it!

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Instead of telling you all about our fun, you can see for yourself!
And yes, this was indeed a great language opportunity!
It's amazing how many words one can get when bribed with candy!
Hope everyone had a great Halloween!

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