Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Apraxia Part 3 - Speech Therapy Advances

Our little guy..

.. is so very sweet and funny!  He must look at the world very differently and experience such different things.  Its so fascinating to see what he is like.  He loves to climb, he loves to have a joke with you, he loves to play with his toys and figurines.  J has a love for anything mass produced - Toy Story, Lightning McQueen, Spiderman, Octonauts..  He loves playing with bubbles, Play Doh, Mr Potato Head (great for therapies - arm/nose/eye/hair/ear), cars, dolls house, baby dolls, anything really.  He also really loves music - listening on CDs or making his own with the harmonica, xylophone and drums!  I've also found thru kindergarten that he is great with his hands - he can take magnetic shapes and build the most amazing things (especially spaceships!) - he is very intricate and thoughtful with his designs.

He's never been great with making sounds or talking but boy is he animated in what he does try to get across to us.  He could definitely win awards as a mime artist and he always gets his message across to people.  When he started kindergarten this year (for 4 year olds) his teacher did not know what to expect as we'd told him he couldn't talk very well etc.. and the first thing she said to us was how well he communicated and still got his message across despite his lack of words.  Kinder has been the best thing for him this year.  Its given him so much motivation to try harder so that he can communicate with his peers.  It still hasn't been easy for him.  Its just so darned hard for him to form sounds and make words.  I can see it when we are practicing sounds from speech - some sounds he really struggles with and he gets cross quickly with them.  /H/ is a really hard one for him at the moment (we are practising Hop, Hop, Hop and he just hates it!).

We have come a long way with his speech since we started Prompt towards the end of last year.  Unfortunately, regular speech therapy did NOTHING for him.  All we really worked on with regular speech therapy was improving his attention span and getting him to sit still and concentrate for longer periods of time.  It just doesn't work for him to mimic sounds - he has to be shown through physical contact which is what Prompt does.  I can also see that he tries to copy through concentrating on the sound coming to his ears but he really dislikes looking at you when you are trying to teach him.. I'm not sure if this is a trait or if its related to how the whole mimicing thing does not work for him.  He can look and copy an open mouth but he can't seem to get anything from the nuances of where you place your tongue or other mouth formations you might make.

Sounds that he has learnt this year are: /m/, /b/, /p/, /o/, /a/, /e/, /i/.  Basically he can sing E-I-E-I-O! Lots of emphasis on stretching the mouth sideways and up and down.  We have also been working on /h/ but he really struggles with this and does NOT like to practise it.  We've also been working on /w/ - starting with an o sound, so more like o-w- before the rest of the word.  And he is doing fantastically with our /w/ combinations - wee, weep, weem, woo, woop, weeb, weem (basically p, m, p endings), wah, wahm, wahp, wahb -- these are nonsense combinations, just for practising mouth movements.
We also started using some Cued Articulation (as our therapist knows both) for /s/ and /p/.  Our therapist did the /s/ cue when he was struggling with this one and he bloody loved it!!  When he does the hand sign, he can do /s/'s!!!!  Without it, he can't seem to do it.  It was like a little miracle was happening in the therapist's office that day!  J had learnt his /p/ sound but then lost it (using /b/ instead, just cos its so hard) and then the therapist reintroduced it using the cue and he's got it back again.

Left to his own devices, J just does /duh, duh, duh/ for everything.  This is how he plays on his own with his figurines now despite learning different sounds.  So we're also just starting to push him to use the words that he's learnt in his play and natural environment.  I think he's starting to get good feedback from people which can only motivate him further and get him pushing forward with his speech production.  I also think we've got quite a few sounds and combinations working now so that we are able to model new words that we come across which is pretty awesome!!!