Monday, March 26, 2012

App Review: Letter Tracking

As most of you may know, my daughter has had two surgeries to correct a lazy eye.
And with her alignment issue, we also found that she had a difficult time tracking print once we started to teach her to read.
Our private Occupational Therapist knew that we had an iPad and also knew that I was all about helping both of my kids with their myriad of issues.
So she let me in on this great little secret: a print-tracking iPad app!
This app has been written in conjunction with pediatric occupational therapists who work in schools and clinics with children who often struggle with reading.
One of their main difficulties is seen during reading or when they have to asnwer questions based on a passage they have read. It has been found that because they struggle with tracking they are unable to answer the questions or complete the task without fatigue to their eyes.

Tracking skills, or the ability to control the fine eye movements required to follow a line of print, are really important in reading. Children with tracking problems will often lose their place, skip or transpose words, and have difficulty understanding because of struggling to move their eyes accurately. Many are forced to use their fingers to follow the line because their eyes can't.

When we read, our eyes don’t move smoothly across the line. Instead, our eyes make a series of jumps and pauses as we read. The small jumps between words or groups of words are called saccades. The brief pause we make while looking at the words is called a fixation. After a fixation, we move our eyes to the next word or group of words—another saccade.
This very precise coordination of jumps and pauses is controlled by our central and peripheral visual systems. Our central vision processes what we’re seeing in clear detail and defines what we’re looking at. Our peripheral, or side vision, simultaneously locates surrounding objects and let’s us know where to look.
In reading, our central vision processes the word, while our side vision locates the following word and tells us where to aim our eyes next. The integration of these two systems allows us to efficiently move our eyes along a line of print without overshooting or undershooting, or mistakenly aiming our eyes at lines above or below. If there is not fluid integration between these two systems, reading will be jerky, loss of place will be common, and comprehension will be poor.

What I love about this app are the five levels (Entry, Beginners, Junior, Middle and Master) that you can use.
Of course, we began with "Entry" in which the app randomly chooses a letter for my child to track and find on the screen.
As she perfected this, we moved onto the second level, then third, and so on.

There is only one thing that I do not like.

The only thing that I do NOT like about this app is the voice of the woman that you will hear as your child touches the appropriate letter correctly.
To say that she sounds less-than-enthusiastic would be an understatement!
She sounds bored, bothered, and dull.
If your kids are like mine, they thrive on enthusiasm and excitement!
I was pleased to see that I could "mute" her voice and use my own to encourage my kids!
For only $1.99, you can get this app, too, by clicking here!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Best Blogs by SLPs: From A to Z

Did you ever google "blogs by SLPs" and fall into an abyss?
I have.
That is, until I found this link!
All the best blogs out there, written by SLPs, and they are at your fingertips!

Click here to see what I am talking about!
And I think there is a place that you can nominate/add/suggest your own SLP blog to add to the list.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today's Top Ten

10. It's summer in Chicagoland! No, it's only March. We'll take it!

9. Great speech and OT sessions!

8. Planning summer speech schedules. Yep, it's never too early!

7. Handwriting and reading...and liking it!

6. New reading program in school. She likes it so far!

5. Decisions on IEPs and placement.

4. A wonderful birthday spent with my little family! Bliss!

3. 60 degrees at night. Sleeping with the windows March...and not freezing!

2. Special Olympics/Young Athletes!

1. I LOVE my kids!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

They Are Indeed My Gifts!

This Mom has a son with apraxia.
A gift.
Just like all of our children who suffer with apraxia.
I always say that my children are my gifts and would not exchange them for anything!
Their speech issues make them who they are.
And their speech issues taught me to celebrate the little things!
Thank you, Lynn, from all of us!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Benefits of Signing and Apraxia

Last week, I posted my story about how our journey with sign language began.
How I firmly believed that it bridged the gap between my daughter with apraxia and her talking family.
How I believed that without it, we would have faced more frustrations with our inability to communicate.

Now, instead of hearing it from me, I would like for you to hear it from the professionals.
Well, one professional to be exact.
You see, when someone is so passionate about something, you can feel it.
And when I am on the same page as a professional, it makes me feel as if I am doing something right.
That I'm not "out there" in left field and grasping at straws.

Kristy (over at Hear My Hands) wrote a great post about signing and apraxia.
You can read it here!

Thanks again, Kristy, for a great website and being the wealth of information that you are!
And thank you for your passion!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reading, Decoding and Special Needs

First of all, I need to thank my sweet friend, Kim, for sending this to me!

MWAH! Love her!

After watching this, I got a better insight to how my daughter (or any child with reading and decoding issues) learns to read, how they feel in the classroom setting, what a teacher may sound like if they begin to get frustrated with a child who is taking too long to read, etc...
It also gave me a better insight to how I work with my own children at home with reading and homework.

Now that you have seen this, what do you think?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10. It appears as though spring has arrived! 70 degrees in Chicago for the next week!

9. Regression. I hate it.

8. Groping for sounds. Frustrating.

7. Happy kids and hard workers no matter what is going on with their speech! Thank you, God!

6. Spring = bugs. YUCK! Found one in the kids' bathroom today and it freaked me out!

5. Planning summer therapy sessions already. Really!

4. My birthday is coming up this week.......and I am actually excited about it!

3. Swim lessons = progress and fun!

2. Quiet time for Mom.

1. I LOVE my kids!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

1,000,000 Starts With 1

For those who have been bullied.
Special needs or not.
This is for any child out there.
And their family.

Will YOU join the campaign?
I'm already there.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sign Language And Apraxia

Long ago, back in the day when my girl was barely a year old and even had a diagnosis of apraxia, we were signing with her.
At the time, I thought it was so cool that my little baby girl could tell me "milk" and "more" and "please" and "thank you" with her little hands.
She wasn't talking, but we were communicating.
Time went on and she still wasn't talking.
We were communicating, but it was hard and it wasn't the type of communication that I thought I would be having with my baby girl.
Back then, I didn't realize that I was actually paving the way of communication for her.
Back then, I just thought it was cute.
Once she hit 18 months and still wasn't talking as much as a typical child of her age, we got our apraxia diagnosis.
I spent countless hours on Google, trying to find ways to fix her and help her.
And the funny part was that many sites encouraged signing with your child.
By the age of 2.5 years, my daughter was able to sign up to 100 different signs!
People in the grocery stores were amazed at her "talent".
Family members accused me of delaying her speech even more.

What did they know?

By pairing a word with its visual cue, I was allowing my daughter to feel less frustration and to express herself.
I always gave her the verbal cue as I signed it to her, and she picked up on it very quickly.
Soon, I saw that she was attempting the verbal word as she signed.
Then, I saw the sign slowly fade as the word became isolated in her vocabulary.

Genius approach!

This was NOT the be-all-end-all-cure-all for apraxia.
What is did do is allow an avenue for myself, my husband, and my daughter to communicate while we were working on her speech therapy.

Fast forward 7 years and I am still a HUGE supporter of signing.
Whether your child can speak or not, this is a great way to facilitate communication with your baby.

A great lady named Kristy over at Hear My Hands has a wonderful site to teach you just about everything that you need to know about ASL. Here is a little about her:

HearMyHands was created 2008 after a research study conducted by Kristy at LaSalle University using sign language and hearing infants. The study was a success and HearMyHands launched from there! HearMyHands provides workshops, classes and tutoring for babies, children and adults.

Kristy is a masters level certified Signing Time instructor in South Jersey. She has been a member of the Sign2Me Presenters Network since 2006.

Kristy has her bachelors in Communication Science & Disorders and masters in Speech-Language Pathology. She is currently enrolled at Nova Southeastern for her doctorate in speech-language pathology.

Kristy truly enjoys learning the language of ASL and is eager to share that joy with others. Knowing infants' minds are like little sponges, learning ASL is just a great way to help them absorb everything they have at the tip of their little fingers.

It is people like Kristy that make our jobs as parents with children with speech and language issues a little easier.
I just wish I knew her back in 2004 when my journey just began.
You can find Kristy and her site on Facebook as well as Twitter, too!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Circle Of Moms...for Apraxia

And it's not just another board.
It is a board with members from all over the United States and other countries who are in the same boat as us!
You can log on with Facebook and have their feeds go straight to your timeline.
You can follow along on Twitter.
And, yes, they are even on Pinterest.

It's a board comprised of Moms (and Dads, too!) who are here to support each other, bounce off ideas, and help one another when it comes to raising (and surviving) apraxia of speech.

Click here to check it out!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10. Counting down the days until Spring! Then again, it hasn't been much of a winter here in Chicago, has it?

9. Keeping shoes on in school and regaining privileges.

8. My little boy playing with newly hatched chicks in school. Sweet!

7. Well-behaved children in Church. Thank you, Jesus!

6. A swim lesson last week that taught me more than just swim. I learned all about frustration and it made me sad.

5. Networks of great friends!

4. A 4.5 year old who still takes a nap everyday. Thank you very much!

3. Who watches SMASH? Isn't it the best show on TV this year?

2. Who watches Castle? I love that one, too! Monday's are my night!

1. I love my kids!

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Logging Hours

How many hours per week do you sit in therapy waiting rooms.

Did you ever give it any thought?
I did today.
And it made me wonder (and wish) a little bit.
Wish that my "frequent sitting hours" could convert to "frequent sitting miles", just like the airlines offer.
So, since I had nothing else to do because I had already read every magazine in the waiting room already, I put pen to paper (since I don't carry a calculator in my back pocket) and whipped up some numbers*:

If I calculated the 5 hours of therapy (total for both kids) per week, that breaks down to:
300 minutes per week
1200 minutes per month
14400 minutes per year

Of. Me. Just. Sitting.

Now don't get me wrong here.
I am very extremely grateful that my insurance company (Aetna)is paying for all of this therapy for my kids.
They are thriving because of it and I couldn't be more pleased!
So don't think for one moment that I am complaining.
In fact, I do some of my best thinking in those waiting rooms since I have nothing else better to do.
I have whipped out IEP Goals and drafted letters and responded to important emails and took even more important phone calls in those waiting rooms.
Oh, and tweeted and Facebooked in those same rooms.

OK, I went off the subject a bit here.
Let's get back to my point.
And yes, I do have a point.
So if the average commercial airliner can travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour,
that works out to 10 miles per minute.
So if I am sitting here for 300 minutes per week, I can also travel 3000 miles!

Where can I go within 3000 miles?
When I googled this question, the answer I got made me giggle: the ocean.

A place of calm to rejuvenate and stimulate my senses.
The feel of gentle breezes.
The feel of warm sun.
The smell of clean, salty air.
The sound of cooing birds.
The sound of waves crashing onto the shore.
The touch of warm sand between my toes.

I'm awake!
Therapy is over and the therapist is telling me what a great job my child has done today.
My child is clinging to my leg and tugging on my arm because he is hungry.
Thanking our therapist for the reminder of the next session, we are off.
I am thrust back into reality.

Life's a beach for sure!

How long do you sit and where can you go with your "frequent waiting miles"?

*These numbers are based on my own weekly schedule.

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy March 1st!

My Irish Prayer for you all......
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Thank you, Terri Mauro, for allowing me to share your calendars each month!

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