Monday, January 31, 2011

Sick Day

This is my house this morning.
Two sick kids.
Lots of Kleenex and snotty noses.
Productive coughs and hoarse voices.

I always asked them...begged share.

Be careful what I ask for, right?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Show Me The Money!

At Kaitlyn's most recent IEP Meeting two weeks ago, we were informed that money/coin identification will be another one of her goals.
They want her to be able to identify the coin as well as give it the proper monetary amount.
Kaitlyn struggles with this a bit.
Pennies are pretty easy since they are copper in color.
Dimes, nickels and quarters are a bit harder for her to identify off the top of her head since they are all silver.
She can, however, identify these with a little time and a lot of patience.
The monetary part is another story.

So off to Google I went.

And wouldn't you know that I was able to find age-appropriate (This is important!) worksheets that I could print out at home to assist in working with her.
On Math Worksheet Wizard, you can find matching coin to coin, matching coin to monetary amount, board games, and name it, I found it!

Also, on another site called Kids Learning Station, I found sheets with the coins as well as the written word, as seen below:

Now if you would excuse me, we've got some learning to do!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

More On Breath Support

Yes, Kaitlyn and our private SLP Miss M are still working on this.
In fact, it appears as though the work is paying off!

Sound is produced by the vibration of air molecules, which in turn is caused by the vibration of the vocal folds.
The air that is exhaled from the lungs is both the power source that causes the vocal folds to vibrate open and closed, and it is the medium that is set into vibration which we perceive as sound.
The air pressures and air flows we generate during speech are critical to voice production.
Therefore, our breathing is important for producing voice.

Kate's breath support basically sucks.
That is why her voice is so robotic and monotone, and it also explains why she can't string a long sentence together.
Rather, her sentences are composed of 4-5 words.

So the brilliant Miss M suggested that we purchase some sort of incentive spirometer to work on building that breath support that Kaitlyn needs so much to overcome this nasty monster called apraxia.
So she referred us to Alimed to purchase one.
And of course, I did.
Just received it via Fed Ex yesterday.

Here's a little tidbit about this particular tool, taken from the website:
***A versatile tool that can be used for either exhalation or inhalation. ***The "floating" ball provides a visual measure of performance.
***Easily adjustable flow valve for different degrees of difficulty with two different styles of mouthpieces.
***Durable, made of lightweight, latex-free plastic.
***Kit comes with complete instructions, client progress chart (reproducible), carrying case, nose clamp, and five extra mouthpieces.
***Can be used for either exhalation or inhalation
***Easily adjustable flow valve for different degrees of difficulty
***Lightweight, latex-free plastic

I feel like a kid at Christmas with a new toy!
Hope Kaitlyn feels the same way....

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Award? For Me?

Um....I don't know what to say.
I received an email yesterday from someone who reads my blog and they gave me this award.

WOW! Thanks!

Oh, and that "someone" is Charlene @ Autism As A Whole
Thanks, Charlene! Really! I am floored and speechless, which is something that doesn't happen all that often.
And you are one of the few that has done it!
Charlene happens to be a single Mom to four children and the little one has autism.
Her blog is awesome, so I suggest that you check it out sometime!

So I guess that I have to do two things now:
1.) Tell you 7 things about me.
2.) Award this same award to other bloggers.

Deep breath.
OK, 7 things about me.
7 things.

Hmmm? This is tougher than I thought!

OK, here goes nothing!

1. I love to swim, but I am afraid of death by drowning.
2. I seriously contemplated becoming an OB/GYN, but the malpractice insurance is too high!
3. I was the only left-handed volleyball player on my high-school team and went to college on a volleyball scholarship.
4. I am ambidextrous.
5. I believe in angels and I met one at O'Hare Airport one day. Totally true story! It's in my blog if you want to read it!
6. I know that I have some form of OCD, but I won't go to the doctor to confirm it.
7. I hate talking in front of large crowds, but would jump at the chance to talk with people about apraxia and its effects on life!

Now, here are a few bloggers that I would like to introduce you to.
They are pretty awesome, I am sure you will agree!

***Leah @ Say What?. I met her on an "Expecting in 2007" board and we have boys the same age. Her little guy has a hearing impairment and Leah is my hero! She is one of the strongest, toughest, solid-as-a-rock Moms I know. I hope to meet her one day!

***Warrior Therapy Mom I think this chick and I were separated at birth! She is one tough cookie and fights the good fight for therapies for her little one!

***The Crack and The Light This is another Mom with a child with apraxia of speech. And a nurse like me. We have the "Nurse Curse" as I call it. OH, and she is a Packer's Fan, but I won't hold that against her. OK, maybe I will a little bit!

***Heather at The Hopeful Elephant. Another Mama, another nurse, another source of strength for me. Her little boy is so darned cute, too! Medically complex, this Mom rocks!

***Jessica at Four Plus an Angel I just recently met this classy lady, but she is the type that makes you feel like you have known her for-EVA! She is the Mom of a huge brood, but also suffered the loss of one triplet. A strong, sarcastic, hilarious Mom that I know you will love as much as I do!

Thanks again, Charlene, for giving me this award. I really do appreciate it!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten

10. The Bears lost. Enough said. No comments, please.

9. Meeting the new Pastor of our Church on opening my big mouth about wanting to bathe our kids in the Baptismal font. Oops!

8. Listening to Andrew "pretend" to read a book in the back seat of the car. Too cute!

7. Kaitlyn mastering more site words!

6. Andrew "stealing" Kaitlyn's Leapster that she got for Christmas. Not cool, little man!

5. Me, driving for 90 minutes to 8 different stores looking for the PINK Leapster for Kaitlyn. Found it at the 9th store...of course!

4. Meeting a great gal and her husband who started a foundation for CAS. How awesome is that?!

3. More and more progress on the speech therapy front.

2. Meltdowns. From everyone. Including me. Yuck!

1. I love my kids!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A Great Foundation for Apraxia

When you blog, you open your lives to readers from all over the country.
All over the world.
You talk to the screen and spell out your words.
People read.
People comment.
People reach out to you.
People thank you.
And yes, they debate with you.

But let's focus on the "reaching out" part.

The other day, I was contacted by a neat lady named Kim.
Turns out she has a beautiful child with apraxia as well.
And she has a pretty nifty husband.
And together, they are trying to make a difference in the lives of those touched with apraxia.

How, you ask?

Well, they have started the Ron Karkovice Foundation for Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Yes, you read that correctly: Ron Karkovice.

As in the Ron Karkovice, the catcher for the Chicago White Sox.

Now don't worry, my friends.
I still bleed Cubbie blue and will forever be the #1 Chicago Cubs fan that you know and love.
But for one moment in my life, I am now connected to a member of the Chicago White Sox organization.

Shocking, I know.
But remember....I still bleed Cubbie blue!

But back to my point here: Ron and Kim.
These awesome people have been hit with a diagnosis for their child, yet they want to help others with the same speech and language issues.
As written on their website:

"...As Kim and Ron Karkovice were learning all about Childhood Apraxia of Speech, they decided to do something positive for children with Apraxia and other speech and communication disorders. They learned that a great number of children go without therapy or with inadequate therapy because of a lack of insurance, or they are on an insurance plan that doesn’t cover speech therapy. In addition to sharing their own personal experience, Kim and Ron Karkovice have created the Get the Word out Scholarship Program which helps other families, access and fund the speech extensive speech therapy that their children require..."

If you go to their site and purchase anything from their store, all proceeds go to their foundation!
"...Ron Karkovice Foundation for Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization of the Internal Revenue Code, classified as a public charity. All donations are tax deductible..."

And they also have a Facebook Fan Page that you can follow as well!

Ron and Kim, you both are classy folks!
Thank you both for what you are doing!
From one apraxia parent to another...THANK YOU!

Oh, and Ron, the Cubbies WILL still win a World Series in this lifetime!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Celebrate National Handwriting Day!

Sunday, January 23rd is National Handwriting Day.
But since I don't blog on the weekends anymore, I thought I would share this event with you today.

We know that children who master handwriting are better, more creative writers.
So our jobs are to encourage our children to explore )in their best handwriting of course)the arts of poetry, story, essay, and other creative writing.

Evolution of National Handwriting Day
The day was basically started by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. In the year 1977, the association decided to promote the usage of pens, pencils and writing papers so that the manufacturers will still be in business.
January 23rd is regarded as the National Handwriting day, that day is the birthday of John Hancock.
He was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.
John Hancock is now used as a synonym for signature.
He was the first to make a clear and extravagant sign while signing the United States of America’s Declaration of Independence.
Ever since there have been many people who have always given some value to the creative and natural art of writing, it was decided that there should be a day which is dedicated to Handwriting.
Two years ago, children in classrooms throughout the United States and around the world helped make history with Mail to the Chief, which delivered more than 35,000 handwritten letters of advice to the White House.
That activity gave children a voice they didn't have in other media—because handwriting remains the primary way that elementary aged children communicate.

How to celebrate National Handwriting Day
There are many ways of celebrating this day.
Teachers generally encourage the students to use some calligraphy skills in the classroom.
All the best ways of making the student express themselves should be encouraged in them.
Awareness should be spread around the world where people come to understand the importance of the beauty of handwriting.
There are many activities which as a person you can take up on this day.

Here are some things you can do:
•The best activity to do on this day is to write a letter to your loved ones.
You can write anything in the letter only try to write it with the best pen you have with the best handwriting.
This will remind you of how beautifully you write.

•Bake a cake and ask all your friends to put their signature on the cake with frosting.

•Another usage of your creativity can be by writing a poem.
It might be a difficult task but it will surely help you to use your non functional side of the brain.
You may not win a noble prize for your poem but at least it will bring out a new side of you.

•Try to learn about handwriting analysis.
It is a beautiful art to understand and learn about the handwriting and also it is interesting to see how it can help you find the character of a person through his handwriting.

•An autograph book is another easy way of getting in touch with your old rust pencils and pens.
Ask all of your friends to give their autograph in your book.

•The most memorable and satisfying activity would be to gift a pen to your best friend.

Handwriting is a struggle for many children with OT and fine motor issues.
You can click on the Crayola site here for ideas to do with your child.

The Handwriting Without Tears site also has many activities that you can do with your child, from pre-K and up!

Happy Writing!!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ooohhhhh! FROGS!

When you have a child with a speech and language delay, you become pretty slick at translating their new "language".
If fact, give your self a pat on the back, because you ROCK this new language!

However, there are times that you struggle to translate a word from your child and the frustration that you both experience when you try so hard to figure out the word and your child gives you "that look" when you aren't getting it right is downright heart breaking.

Well, today, my son threw me a curve ball.

"F*ck!" he yelled, as we were in line at Toys-r-Us to buy Kaitlyn a new Leapster Explorer.
(NOTE: Nothing is wrong with her other one....but that is another blog entry to explain this story.)

"F*ck!" he yelled again.
This time, I looked at him with wide eyes and wanted to puke at the same time because as he yelled this, many other Moms and children were within earshot and now looking at me as if I was the culprit for modeling the "F-Bomb" for my child to say.

"F*ck!" he yelled one final time.
I say final, because I quickly put my hand against his mouth and reprimanded him for saying bad words in a store or anywhere for that matter.
And then I got the look from him....the look that said "Ma, listen to what I am saying..."

As my hand stayed on his mouth and Moms kept looking at me and shooting death glares at me, Andrew slowly glanced his eyes up and to the left.
And so did I.

A. Frog. Balloon.

F*ck = F-R-O-G.

I made sure to talk very loudly to him, acknowledging what he said and pointing to the balloon and saying the word over and over and over and making him say it over and over and over.
Just so those Moms could see and hear that my son was NOT swearing.

We need to work on that /R/ sound.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Satire and Sarcasm in Special Education

(NOTE: Prior to watching this video, please scroll to the lower right column to "pause" my blog music so that you can hear the clip. Thanks.)

Although this video clip has been made to the extreme, I know that it does happen.
But for all of you Mama Bears and Papa Bears out there, stand your ground like this Mama does!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten

10. A long, four day weekend! Aahhh!

9. Being cancelled for my 12-hour shift on Sunday and staying home to watch the victorious Chicago Bears game!

8. Continued progress with handwriting for Kaitlyn.

7. A wonderful evening (Kate, Andrew, Me and Daddy) at an area bounce-gym. Just what the doc ordered!

6. RTI that is working for Andrew....YES!

5. My interview with a national company on RTI and it's effects on my children. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you!

4. A great IEP Meeting and the proposed "mainstream" topic that was just thrown on the table at the end. That wasn't cool, especially when our meeting was over and they were gearing up for the next meeting. More to me!

3. Andrew asking a fellow classmate to play "Candy Land" with him....YAY!

2. Continued progress with speech therapy.

1. I love my kids!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Special Education Scorecards

Do you have a school-aged child with speech needs?

Ever wonder how your state ranks when it comes to special education scores?

***The scorecard includes information on state special education enrollment, including students with learning disabilities, student performance on key indicators, federal funding provided to states in support of special education, plus the state's latest rating by the U.S. Department of Education on its State Performance Plan.*

(Scorecards are based on best available data as of September 1, 2009.)

Click here and you can find out what is going on in your state!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Let's Sing!

I am in love.

With a music CD.

And the above picture is the music CD that has stolen my heart.

Yes, there are umteen tons of music CDs for kids out there, but this one is ranked #1in my book.
My kids love it.
I love it.
And it really gets a work out in my house.
It is found on the Handwriting without Tears website (in case you are interested in purchasing it).
Plus, they give you an activity sheet on their site that corresponds with the CD.

And a little confession: my favorite songs are "There's a Dog in School", "Mat Man" and "Puffy Fluffy".
Just sayin'.......

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's Top Ten

10. Back to school after Winter Break.

9. A new school program for Andrew.

8. A good IEP Meeting for Andrew.

7. A surprising announcement with subsequent information at that IEP Meeting.

6. Transition.

5. Continued, amazing progress for Kaitlyn on the speech therapy front.

4. Andrew's complete adjustment to preschool (finally!)

3. Re-exploring the whole "Potty Training" venue again...and hoping it works this time!

2. My "proposition" for Thursday morning....more info to come!

1. I love my kids!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An IEP Meeting Like No Other

Today was Kaitlyn's annual IEP Meeting.
I was prepared.
Or so I thought.
All was going along swimmingly...until the end of the meeting, that is.
Because that is when a major bomb of all bombs was dropped on me: transition.
My daughter is approaching transition from special education with support services to general ed with support services.

The room fell silent.

My heart stopped, skipped a beat or two, and then landed in my throat.

Leave special ed?
Leave our security blanket?
Leave all that we have come to know?
Leave my sorority?


Of course, this will not take place tomorrow.
Nor will it take place next week or next month.
However, it is in the works and transition will be taking place.
And right now, the forecasted date of Jan 2012 was thrown on the table.

One year.
365 days.

While I sit hear, filled with fear and tears streaming down my cheeks, I know that this is good news.
My daughter is making great strides, achieving goals and reaching benchmarks.
Although she is not ready right now for general education, she is a bit too high-functioning for the special education and self-contained setting that she is currently in.
If only there was and "in between" class that she could go to first, before we throw her into the deep end of the pool.

If only.

But there isn't.
What we have is a great team putting plans in place to increase her time in the general education classroom while decreasing her time in the self-contained setting.
Slowly pulling away adult support.
Decreasing the use of task strips and reminders.
Upping the ante, so to speak.

And what I have is one little girl who is doing so well that her wings are almost clipped.

Right now, my head is pounding with a pretty nice headache, overwhelmed with the information that was presented to me.
I have fear.
Fear that she may slip through the cracks or lose something that we have worked to hard to gain.
A little nausea.
Blurry contact lenses.

But most of all... I have a heart filled with so much love for my daughter and admiration for her hard work.
I am so proud of what she has accomplished and what she has done.
I am in awe of the little lady she has become and the potential which she is filled with.
I am so lucky to be her Mom.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Neurological Impress Method (N.I.M.)

As I sit here, teaching my seven year old daughter sight-words, I wonder to myself "How is she ever going to learn to read?".
Frankly, this frightens me!
She is already battling apraxia of speech as well as a myriad of other issues.
Is she going to struggle with reading as well?

And as I wondered about this, a fellow Mom (who happens to be a "Reading Expert") brought NIM to my attention.
Of course, I Googled it.
And I read about it.
And I read some more.

And I am going to give this a try.
It can't hurt to try, right?
And even if it doesn't work as I would want it to, at least I am still giving her another avenue for reading and for some one-on-one time spent with Mom.
The way I see it, it is a win-win situation!

So this is what I found:

The Neurological Impress Method (N.I.M.) is a method for teaching reading to your child at home. It was first developed by R.G. Heckelman, PhD. NIM combines seeing, hearing, and speaking for simultaneous learning. No special training is required. All you need is some age appropriate reading material (2-3 grade levels below your child's actual grade level is recommended.)

Read aloud
Sit so your voice is close to your child's ear, then read the passage out loud, together. You should read a little faster than your child can manage at first. The idea is to train him to keep up. Repeat sentences and paragraphs until your child is comfortable with the technique and develops a sense of accomplishment. It can take just 3 minutes in some cases (longer in others) to get the ball rolling.

Keep Reading & Don't correct
It takes very little instruction, but remember never to correct your child. He will hear his own mistakes and correct them by listening to your voice as he goes. Don't stop to ask questions of your child and don't entertain his questions until the session is over. The exercise is meant to build a correct reading style that will be conducive to accuracy down the road.

The finger guide
As you read together, move your finger along with the words in a smooth, continuous fashion. This gives the child a clear target to look at. It keeps his eyes from straying all over the page and helps establish his grasp of the left-right progression of text. In time, he can take over the finger function.

Stay Synchronized
It's crucial to ensure that your voice is synchronized to the speed at which your finger moves across the page. Your finger should be under the word you are reading at all times. As an experienced reader you may tend to look ahead and run your finger ahead of where their voice is. With the N.I.M. it is essential that the finger movements, voice, and words all be synchronized.

Pick up the Pace!
You need to periodically speed up the rate at which you cover material so your student is forced to read and comprehend faster. Practice reading at a slightly increased pace for few manageable minutes each session.

The Neurological Impress Method is a very effective way to teach your child how to read. It takes story time to the next level by involving your youngster directly. If you're patient and increase the demand slowly, over time, your child will acclimate to advanced reading levels naturally and be ready for further advancement in no time at all.

And you can read about one Mom's expertise in this area right here!

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Friday, January 7, 2011

IEP Meeting

It's next week Tuesday....and I forgot about it.

I cannot believe that I actually forgot about this meeting coming up.
Yep, I forgot.
But this is a good thing, right?
I am not stressed about the meeting this time.
It's not like that IEP Meeting of 2009.
This is different.
We are on the same page.
She is making progress.
I am a happy Mama (right now, that is).
Of course, all is not peachy and hunky-dory.
I do have concerns.
And I know that they will be addressed.

It's just kinda nice knowing that I don't have to prep and stress and print and plan and have that "Rocky III" song going in my head as I enter the room.
Does this mean that I am beginning to like IEP Meetings?
No, I just think that we finally have a team that is on the same page and has the same goals in mind: Kaitlyn's continued progress.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

When You Wish Upon a Star

Today, Kaitlyn and her 1st grade buddies are heading out on a field trip to an area planetarium.

Did you know.......
There are 5 planets you can see with your own eyes!
From Earth, we can see the five closest planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
To your eyes they appear as stars.
They do not create light like a star, rather sunlight illuminates their surfaces and we see them the same way we see our Moon, just not the same size.
The Moon appears so large because it is close and the planets appear like dots or ‘stars’ because they are so far away.

The 5 planets were discovered before the invention of the telescope.
Ancient people called these five planets ‘wanders’ because they appear to wander against the background of stars.
This is due to the orbital movement of the planets. The word ‘planet’ comes from the Greek word ‘wander’.

One good way to tell stars from planets is that looking at them with the unaided eye, stars twinkle and planets do not.
The twinkling of stars, technically known as stellar scintillation, is caused by the Earth's atmosphere.
Because stars are so incredibly distant from us, any disturbances in the atmosphere will bounce around the light from a star in different directions.
This causes the star's image to change slightly in brightness and position, hence "twinkle".

Make a wish, sweetie, and have a wonderful time!

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Phonics and Leap Frog

I grew up back in the day of phonics.
Not sight words as in today's schools.
What a blessing it is to have LeapFrog along for the ride to teach my daughter phonics as she is in the car!
Not only does she get the phonics education from me at home, she also gets it from LeapFrog.

Thank you, LeapFrog, for helping me teach my daughter phonics again!

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten

10. Spending TWO WEEKS OFF with my kids....priceless!

9. The sadness I feel that they have to go back to school tomorrow and I have to go back to work. *sniff sniff*

8. I *think* that all of the bugs are gone from my kids. Now, Daddy is sick.

7. Watching Kaitlyn successfully do 5 freestyle strokes in the pool yesterday in swim lessons. Yes, Kate, you rock!

6. One napping boy.

5. The language bursts that keep coming from both kiddos! YES!

4. Andrew starting his new school routine this week...deep breath.....

3. My frustration with Blackberry and RIM and AT&T this week...grrr!

2. Counting my blessings.

1. I love my kids!

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Monday, January 3, 2011

What Am I Thinking....

...that the new year will bring?

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy January 1st!

Thanks to Teri Mauro, I would like to share a special calendar for the month of Janurary with you!

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