Friday, June 29, 2012

Social Skills and Apraxia

Yesterday was a good day.
Better yet, a great day!
I was able to briefly talk to our private SLP about the girl's apraxia and get her own professional opinion.
Two years ago, when we met Miss M, the girl was moderate-to-severe apraxia from an intelligibility point of view.
Two years later and from the same point of view, the girl is now mildly apraxic.

Holy cow!  OMG!  I am doing the happy dance over here!

But from the cognitive and social aspect of apraxia, two years ago she was classified as severe.
Really severe.
Yesterday, I was told she was moderate.
Just moderate.


And while this progress truly makes me happy, it also reminds me that we still have a lot of work to do ahead of us.
Kids with apraxia have problems with social skills:  that's a no-brainer.
My own kids with apraxia are afraid to talk with other children at times, but have no problem trying our their language with adults.
Why, you ask?
Well, quite simply....adults will stop and take the time to listen or to look to me for translation.
Kids at school or the park or a summer camp don't want to waste their time trying to figure out what your child just said or why they said what they said.
They want your child to cut to the chase and get to the point so they can continue to play or do whatever it is that they were doing.
So what you find is a child with apraxia who chooses not to interact with another child because they recall past events when the other child rushed them or didn't seem interested in what they had to say.
And because of this, you have a child with apraxia using words that are comfortable to them or repeating comfortable phrases and not expanding on a conversation.
And then you have a social skills issue.

Here's an example of what happens with my own child at the park:

     Kate:  "Hi!"
     Other child:  "Hi!"
     Kate:  "What's your name?"
     Other child:  (Says name)
     Kate (standing there, not knowing what to say next.)
     Me:  (Interjecting:  "Tell her your name, sweetie")
     Kate:  "I'm Kate"
     Other child:  standing there or walking away since they don't want to wait for Mom to continue to prompt child for social situation.

This is what we battle on a daily basis....wherever we go.
So this is our latest project:  Social Skills.

So while the apraxia in our house is s-l-o-w-l-y resolving, it is leaving behind a pretty big deficit in the social skills area.

So when I came across this link (which, by the way, is 82 pages long if you print it out!) for some of the best iPad, iPhone and iTouch apps out there to facilitate the work that we do on social skills, I was beyond excited!
I have been a quiet follower of Constantly Speaking lately and I find this site has a lot of new fresh ideas that are worth a try!
After all, home speech therapy gets boring and you have to up the ante every so often, right?

Click here to see what I am talking about and if any of these apps can work for you!

C'mon, little girl! 
Let's bring that social aspect from moderate to mild in the next year, OK?
Sounds like a pretty realistic SMART goal to me!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Cookie: It's All About Summer Learning!

This blog post could simply be one line:  a website link.

I received an email from a someone who wanted me to just take a look at their site and possible put it on my blog.
So I looked.
And I was more than impressed!

VOILA!  The answer to my summertime question:  How do I keep educating my kids without them realizing that they are doing learning or doing work or even homework?

As parents, we worry about our children sliding back a bit and regressing, forgetting some of the things that they learned and worked so hard on over the last school year.
We put them in Extended School Year programs and camps and therapy to stay one step ahead of regression.
But we are only human, for goodness sakes!
We run out of time, ideas, and inspiration.

With Cookie, you can personalize your own summer curriculum with the use of this one and only website.

Here is an example of what you can do with Cookie:
  • Monday: "Arts and Crafts" Day.
  • Tuesday:  "Language and Reading".
  • Wednesday:  "Science".
  • Thursday:  "Math and Matching".
  • Friday:  "Puzzles and Handwriting".

Whatever you want, Cookie has it...and it's in their mission and philosophy statement on their home page:

At cookie, child experts and educators design interactive online games for kids. Our learning games for kids help in building skills needed for success in school. While playing our fun educational games, kids learn to read with phonics, build skills in math, language, social studies, science and much more. Our educational videos encourage children to keep learning, even after school hours.

Cookie is my answer for the summertime slump that I fall into around mid-July.
Better yet, from now on will be my year-round supplement to school!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Speaking Of Apraxia: A Book Review

Several weeks ago, I was asked to do a book review on the newest book on apraxia to hit the shelves.

Wait!  There really aren't any real decent books about apraxia on the shelves, are there?

So when Leslie called me several years ago as she began her writing journey and what her vision for her book was, I was excited that a book such as this would be coming out very soon!

OK, let's cut to the chase and let me give you my star-rating now:  on a scale of 1-5 stars (with 5 stars being the highest grade) I give this new book.......4 stars!

It is good.
Very good.
It is full of all of the information that a parent with a child with apraxia needs to know.
It is overflowing with resources and graphs and charts and guidelines to help you understand apraxia and the child that is affected by it.
It is loaded with 16 Chapters of the nuts and bolts of apraxia.
It is over 450 pages long and comprised of everything that you can imagine on the neurologically-based condition.
It is the one resource that combines every doctors' office visit, speech session, Google search, or SLP presentation into one handy guide.

And quite honestly, the only reason why I gave it 4 out of 5 stars is that it simply didn't tell me something new that I didn't already know or haven't already read or wasn't already told about apraxia.
Maybe because I have been traveling this apraxia road for 7 years and I've done the gamut of Google searches and have sat in office after office after office and my other child has grown up essentially in a waiting room of an SLP.
Maybe because for over 7 years, apraxia has consumed my life.
And let's just clarify one thing:  I'm NOT saying that I know everything there is to know about apraxia.

I don't.

No one does.

But this book will make sure that you do know a whole lot about apraxia when you are done with it!

For a parent just starting out with a diagnosis....this book is a must have!
For the grandparent who doesn't understand CAS...this book is a must have!
For every single insurance company out there that refuses to pay for speech therapy for a child with CAS...this book is a must have!
For every therapy office waiting room...this book is a must have!

The book is written from the perspective of a Mom with all the emotion that comes from being a Mom to a child with a special need of some sort.
Throw in some quick-witted Mom humor and real-life persona examples and get a page turner for sure!

If you are interested in purchasing this book, I have found it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and Woodbine House.

You can also find a page for the book on Facebook as well.

From one apraxia Mom to another...from one RN to another...let me just say:  great job, Leslie!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Speech Buddies

- Does your child have difficulty saying specific sounds or letters?
- Does he lisp when saying the letter S? (thilly instead of silly)
- Does her R sound like a W? (wabbit instead of rabbit)
- Does his SH, CH or S sound "slushy?"
- Does her L sound like a W? (wesson instead of lesson)
- Does your child feel embarrassed by or less confident in his speech?
- Has your child’s teacher, pediatrician, or another parent mentioned that your child produces some  words differently than other children?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the questions above, and your child is four or older, your child may have a speech or articulation disorder.*

"Speech Buddies are a series of revolutionary speech therapy tools to help children learn correct and consistent tongue positioning for five of the most difficult-to-learn problem sounds – R, S, L, CH, and SH. Speech Buddies were designed by a team of speech-language pathologists and engineers who understand the challenges associated with speech therapy and treating speech disorders. Speech Buddies train correct tongue placement so children learn and feel how to produce the right sound. Having customized tools for articulation disorders is a breakthrough technology for the speech therapy industry.
Speech Buddies have been shown to help children learn to correct problem sounds twice as fast.1 They help address mild or severe speech challenges by making it easy to pronounce the correct sound, every time."*

I was fortunate to get a set of these to try with my own children.
And, of course, I tried them on myself first to see how easy they were to use.

And they are easy.

My daughter was able to follow my instructions and place the appropriate sound buddy in her mouth as I instructed.
My son, on the other hand, may be either too young or too intolerant of my experiments, so it took a little longer for him to get the hang of each tool.

This /r/ sound is a tough one. 
Neither of my children have mastered it yet.
Well, first of all, as you are teaching them the sound, they simply can't see your tongue placement!
And secondly, it is very hard to explain how to position the tongue.

The /s/ sound is a little easier to produce, but it still has it's issues. We like to use a mirror with our Speech Buddy so that both of my kids can do a "before-and-after" example of the /s/ sound with and without their Seal buddy!  Then we place our buddy on the side and practice words with beginning, medial, and ending /s/ sounds!

The /l/ sound hasn't been much of an issue for us, but it is always nice to be able to go back and polish it up when it decides to get lazy.  Plus, the /l/ sound can be made with the use of food!  Try placing peanut butter or a Cherrio or Fruit Loop on the tip of your tongue and placing it behind your two front teeth all while making that /l/ sound!

The /sh/ sound is easy for my daughter but harder for my son.  I can't explain what the sound is that comes from him, but it isn't remotely close to the /sh/ sound.  Somehow, he gets his point across.

The dreaded /ch/ sound.  This one is going to give me gray hair!  Again, my daughter can perform this sound with one or two demos and a gentle reminder from the Speech Buddy.  But my son?  Oy!  His /ch/ sound for "lunch" or "orange" comes out as "lun-shhh" and "oran-shhh".  I love this Speech Buddy the best!

If you go to the Speech Buddy website, you can also track your child's progress FREE at their Speech Buddies University.  This is only my opinion, but I think they need an app for this!

Below is a great video which explains the Speech Buddies and how to use them at home with your own child!
Do I think these tools are worth the investment?

Do I think these tools will help your child with the above mentioned letter sound issues in addition to your speech therapy?
So far, yes!

For more information or to purchase your own set of Speech Buddies, click here!

Speech Buddies can also be found on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks, Speech Buddies, for yet another way to help both of my children overcome their speech and language obstacles!

*Taken direct from the Speech Buddies website.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today's Top Ten

10.  ESY started last week.  And the kids couldn't be happier!  (OK, me too!)

9.  My daughter has almost perfected the breaststroke!  Can you believe it!

8.  My son is not afraid to jump into 3 feet of water at the pool!  Oh my, we have come so far!

7.  Boy is it hot in Chicago lately!  Welcome to summertime!

6.  Reassessing speech goals for the summer.

5.  Central Auditory Processing issues.  We need to work on this a tad.

4.  Our first summer injury:  a sliced foot courtesy of the metal door at the pool.  Ouch.

3.  The girl has gone through one bathing suit and 3 pairs of goggles already this summer!

2.  Who siad summer is filled with lazy days?  We are hoppin' over here!
1.  I LOVE my kids!
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Words Deluxe: My Son's App Review

"The best-selling reading game for kids has gotten even better! We've added more words and support for phonics. First Words: Deluxe provides endless fun for the toddlers in your life, all while giving your child a head start on learning their letters and learning to spell words.

First Words: Deluxe is toddler-tested and approved, with a user-interface designed specifically for the littlest of fingers. The game includes 174 words, including:

*48 animals
*35 vehicles
* 14 colors
*22 shapes
*55 words from around the house

A wide range of options let you tune the game to match your child's current skills and abilities."

My son LOVES this app, and so do I!
  • There is very little pre-teaching that I had to do with my child.  The app itself did it all!
  • He likes that you find the letter tiles scattered across the bottom of the screen but when you look at the top of the screen to where the word is to be spelled out, the visual is right there!
  • He don't just see blank boxes and I have to tell him where to put them!  They are muted out in the box to give your child that little hint they need. 
  • If he insists upon putting a letter tile in the wrong spot, he doesn't get a blaring "WRONG!" sound.
  • He will get a gentle "BOINK" noise and the tile falls down below the letter which he guessed wrong.
  • Another plus is that when he touches the letter tile, a man's voice says that letter:  great for pairing the visual with the auditory cue!
  • When the word is spelled correctly, the voice repeats each letter in the correct order and then says the word for your child to hear!
  • The animation for each word is absolutely adorable!
  • The ability to expand your child's understanding of shapes is immense!  There is more to just circles and squares here...let's learn about an arc, arrow, clover, spiral, rainbow, and crescent!
  • And there are more types of vehicles out there that your child sees on the streets.  How about a rocket or sub?
  • And when it comes to colors, the primaries aren't the be-all-end-all.  How about teaching your child such colors like tan, gray, gold, and silver!

Did I mention how much I absolutely LOVE the auditory and visual pairing???
I did?
OK, just wanted to make that perfectly clear, seeing that many of our children thrive on the pairing for learning.

You can view this app yourself in iTunes here!

It only costs $4.99, but I truly believe that it is worth the price when you are teaching your child phonics in such a fun way!

You can "LIKE" Learning Touch's Facebook page here as well! 
Stop by and tell them "Hello" and let them know that you heard about this awesome app from my blog post today!

And if you are on Twitter, you can follow Learning Touch here, too!
Re-tweet my tweet about this app review.
Show Learning Touch how awesome I think they are!

(*I received a copy of the above app for review.  The above review is true and of my own opinion.)

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Friday, June 15, 2012

The UnderCover Tape Winner is......


Congrats, Lucinda!

Lucinda, you have 24 hours to email me (with a valid email address) at
to claim your prize!

If Lucinda does not email me by 3:00pm (CST) on Saturday June 16, 2012, a new winner will be chosen.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this latest blog giveaway!

And a BIG thank you to UnderCover Tape for such a great product!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Perfect Sensory Giveaway!

OK folks! 

For a short time, giveaways are back!

And today, I have an absolutely out-of-this-world giveaway for you and your sensory child!

An item sure to help you with the woes of dressing and those itchy tags that seem to send your child into a sensory storm some days!

Drum roll please.................................

Let me introduce you to UnderCover Tape.

Designed by two Moms, Michele Naftal and Michelle Isrow, they were on a quest to solve a problem that many parents and individuals experience:  consistent complaining about pesky tabs and irritating seams. 

Using the catch-phrase "Ditch the Itch", their product does just that!  Undercover tape is a hypoallergenic, latex-free self-adhesive tape that acts as a barrier between you and your irritating seams/tags on clothing, hats, socks, or anything that keeps you from feeling your best. 

Now think of your child with special needs who has a sensory issue.
Combine an annoying tag with a sensory child, and you can imagine what kind of problems you may be in for.
I've got your attention now, right?

It comes at an affordable price of $12.00, and each package contains 15 individual adhesive strips that are 1 inch wide by 3 inches long.
These ladies have been featured on such websites as Daily Candy, Cool Mom Picks, Lil Sugar, as well as morning news show Good Day LA with rave reviews.
Now, if you live in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania you may very well have seen this product on the shelves of certain stores in your area.
But Michelle and Michele would like ONE of you to have your own set of Undercover Tape strips!

So who thinks this is the best product since sliced bread?
Who would like to have a set of Undercover Tape to try on your own child?
Well, here are the rules, and you may enter all 3 ways if you'd like:
1.  Go to Undercover Tape's Facebook page and "LIKE" them!  Then let them know that you heard about their product from my giveaway today as your entry.


2.  If you have a Twitter account, follow Undercover Tape and "RETWEET" my tweet about this giveaway as your entry.


3.  Leave a comment about the product on this blog post as your entry.

This blog giveaway will run from today, Thursday June 14, 2012 through 12:00 noon on Friday June 15, 2012 (CST).
One winner will be chosen at random.
You will have 24 hours to respond to me when I post your name as the winner.
Contest valid in the United States only.
Sorry, but no PO Box entries will be allowed.
No anonymous entries.
You must have a valid email address.
If the first winner does not contact me within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen at random.

(*See Disclaimer tab for more information about this and other giveaways on this site.  Thank you.)


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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Do You Have Handwriting Woes?

For a very long time, we did.

For so long, my daughter's attempts at handwriting were hideous.  Blech!

But after realizing that her poor handwriting was correlated with her motor planning issues and not my poor teaching or her being left-handed (I am too, by the way!) or her lack of enthusiasm, I chose to take a different approach and make handwriting fun!

Here is a list of things that we have done over the last six months which has really helped the cause:

  • PLAYING WITH FOOD.  Besides using shaving cream on a table or in the shower, we have written on a plate with pudding and applesauce as well!
  • WRITING ON THE WALLS.  Well, not exactly the walls, per se.  We have, however, written on windows with Crayola markers.  And NO, I did not run out and buy the markers specific for windows (yes, they do make them!).  We used regular markers on my sun room window and some plain ole Windex cleaned them up when we were done!
  • CHALK AND WATER.  Chalkboards can get boring after a while.  But if you take a piece of black construction paper and chalk...and dip that chalk in get bright, bold colors on black paper!  The kids will think you are a genius!
  • PAINTING THE TOWN.  In this case, we used water-soluble sidewalk paint with paint brushes.  Our driveway was quite the sight!  But this encouraged her to focus her writing with just her wrists and not the entire arm on the driveway.  We made faces, rainbows and squiggles!
Now that summer is here, I am sure that there are plenty of other ideas that you can come up with to encourage therapy at home.

I am also enclosing a great article from Reading Rockets called Handwriting:  What's Normal, What's Not.  I like how it takes you through and age-by-age assessment of what typical children should be doing.  For me, I simply used it as a guide.  When I got to a stage that either of my children were struggling in, I would stop and focus on that stage for while.

Also attached is another great article entitiled 5 Activities to Help Your Preschooler's Pre-Writing Skills.  It gives you more ideas about things you can do to strengthen your child's hands all while laying the foundations for great future writing skills.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far!
We start ESY today for the next 6 weeks!
And check back tomorrow....I've got a great giveaway planned with an even greater product!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10.  ESY Orientation today!  Woo-hoo!

9.  First day of ESY tomorrow!

8.  Back to swim lessons yesterday after two weeks of sickies in the house.

7.   Giving my first haircut to my son.  Yep, I'm going to save some money now!

6.  Great relationships with our docs!  LOVE them!

5.  I cannot believe that I will have a 3rd grader in the fall.  EEK!

4.  Continued progress in Speech, OT and swim for both kids!

3.  Blog giveaways!

2.  Sleeping in during summer break.

1.  I LOVE my kids!
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Monday, June 11, 2012

$250,000 Goes A Long Way!

What would you do with $250,000.00?

A local store, The Sensory Kids Store at BellyBum, has entered to win a grant for this exact sum.

If you don't know who the BellyBum Boutique is, click up there later...because I am asking you all to do one thing first.

Vote for them!

Small businesses work hard for your loyalty and go out of their way for their customers.  They aren't some "big box" store.  They are Mom-and-Pop stores that we all have grown up with and love so much.  It is what drives small businesses.  Sponsored by two powerhouse companies, Chase and LivingSocial want to help fuel that drive by awarding up to 12 individual grants of $250,000 to 12 small businesses.

Can you imagine what $250,000 can do to a small business?

Think about the items and services that this local business can provide for their customers who have children with sensory processing disorder, autism, and other special needs.
It is so simple to vote.

And if you are on Facebook, you actually have one less step to perform!

Click here to log onto the voting site, then scroll to the lower right side of the page that says "Log in with facebook to support your community".  In the search bar, enter "The Sensory Kids Store at BellyBum" (*Please make the address of 4347 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60618 shows up*)

Then.  Click.  VOTE.

That's it!

You can only vote once, and voting ends on June 30, 2012.  However, each business needs at least 250 votes to be considered for a $250,000 grant. Eligible small business applicants will then be judged by a panel of business experts.

That is why your vote is so important.

Thank you for supporting a store which could provide so much to our children with sensory processing and other needs!

You can also go to their Facebook page and "LIKE" the BellyBum Boutique there as well!  

Or there is a great video here shown recently on our Chicagoland news station about this awesome store!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Top Ten

10.  The first week of Summer break and already the kids are bored with what I have to offer them.

9.  A nasty sinus infection that just won't go away for the boy.

8.  I really wish I didn't have to work.

7.  One week until ESY begins.  My kids THRIVE on a schedule!

6.  A little girl with apraxia that is getting one heck of a sassy mouth.  Someone is spending an awful amount of time in her room lately.

5.  Four-year-old boosters today.  OK, the boy will be 5 in 2 months, but who's counting.

4.  Sleeping in.

3.  Dad coming home from work and taking over.  Thanks soooooo much!

2.  Swimming!

1.  I LOVE my kids!
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Friday, June 1, 2012

School's Out and It's June 1st!

Can you believe that it is June already?
Where did the school year go?
In a nutshell, it went by so fast!
But as this calendar says, you deserve a break.
Let's use this summer to relax and enjoy kids being kids.
Let's find new ways to do therapy.
Let's throw the old ways out the window (for the next three months at least) and use our creativity and the summer sun to see, hear, feel and smell what the world has to offer and teach us all!
Yes, we have ESY which starts on June 12th.
So there is still an academic portion to our summer break.
And yes, we still have ST and OT.
So there is still some structured therapy in the calendar for us.
But this year, I am doing things differently.
And I will let you all know in September how it worked out!

*Thanks to Teri Mauro for allowing me to share this calendar.*
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