Monday, September 17, 2012

Speech Update

Since starting school, Dean has definitely been vocalizing more. In particular, he is vocalizing more when he comes home from his typical preschool, which is exactly what we were hoping for. It's still a lot of mishmosh and most things that Dean *does* intentionally say have to be prompted, but it feels, looks, and smells like progress.

Dean is actually getting speech therapy three times a week at school and twice at Children's! This is fantastic. When we met with Sara Plager, SLP at Dr. Miller's office in Florida, she suggested that Dean have speech therapy 3-5 times a week because of an apraxia diagnosis. Frequent, short bursts of practice are needed to reprogram Dean's brain in how to move his muscles and do all that is needed to make appropriate speech sounds. I was skeptical that we would be able to maintain that frequency in therapy, but looks like we're there.

It's also up to us to keep up with the practice at home. For kids with apraxia, it just has to be constant. There are certain times where we are more motivated than others, there are times where we are more able than others to try, and so we do what we can when we can. It's frustrating for Dean and for us, and it's important for us to keep the interactions positive when it comes to speech so that we are not discouraged.

Dean's SLP from Children's made up a list of Dean's words, many of which are approximations and may or may not sound like the word to an outsider. Even though it felt like some of them didn't "count" for this reason, the list has about 13 words. I was surprised that there were even that many. Again, we usually have to cue Dean for these, but at least they're there.

What does the cueing involve? As with most treatment for apraxia, various touch and visual cues are used to jumpstart those reprogrammed pathways I was talking about earlier.
Bob might come home and Dean will say, "Maaa!" He knows that that is Daddy, but it takes more to call up what needs to be said.
I can say, "Dean, say, 'Dada.'"
At this point, Dean may or may not say something that sounds like "Dada."
To go a step further, I can use my index finger to tap my lower lip twice while saying, "Dada" again. This time, Dean will say something that sounds like "Ada" or "Dada" with about 90% accuracy.
We used to have to go a step further and put our finger directly on his mouth to cue the sound (there are different cues for different sounds, I'm just giving an example for /d/). Now, Dean's brain is reminded what to do just from looking at the cue on my own face. It's minute, but it is progress.

I am praying that this year will be a big one for Dean for speech. Not that he'll be talking in sentences by the end of the year, but that in comparison to the previous year where there was pretty much no progress, we'll be able to look back and see that some steps have been made in the right direction.

1 comment:

Candice said...

Speech is so hard work for all involved. Hang in there and remember to look back and remember all the progress made. I know what you mean though....we had one year with very little progress, but he is picking up steam now!