Thursday, May 31, 2012

Special Word and Story Apps

Just wanted to post about the new apps I have downloaded to help with Jack's speech.  I have been frustrated that we have been unable to follow a consistent and building program at home.  I think that Down Syndrome Education Internation has some credibility from what I have read and I wish that we could learn more about how to implement their curriculum.   They are based out of the UK but are moving to become more of an internationally accessible resource.  Does anyone have any experience with them or in successfully using their educational resources?

They have a See and Learn program they have developed for learning words, improving memory, learning to read and speech development.   I am thinking my next purchase will be some of their speech cards.  But the last item we ordered came from the States and was a huge hassle to get delivered.   Also, I may be able to find something similar if I look around.  Does anyone have something similar they are using to practice consonnants, vowels and other speech sounds?

There are two See and Learn Apps that you can run on your iphone or on your ipad.  We just downloaded these to our iphones and Jack is having a blast with them.  We have ordered and downloaded 2 sets of see and learn cards but I find them hard to use.  These apps are so easy and fun to use.  I think I will be intentional about using them with Jack for 10-15 minutes a day.  He actually tries to imitate the word when it is said by the program and loves the applause after he successfully completes each round of matching.  He was asking to play it again at the end of the day.  You can also ad your own photos and words you want to work on.


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Special Words                              Special Stories


The special stories app comes with a number of stories that are read to Jack as he pushes the arrow button.  They repeat common phrases.  This app also gives you the abilty to take pictures and create your own stories starting your little star.  Can't wait to try my own.  You can taylor it to words you may be working on.  I can see us using it more as we prepare for Jack's entrance to school.

Each of these apps is $13.99 which is a fraction of what you pay for the actual cards, you get it immediately and it is easy to use!

You can also go to the Down Syndroime Education International US website and buy an $8.00 add on words for both apps.

My plan is to get up a little earlier each morning so that I can spend 10-15 minutes of focused speech work with Jack on my iphone.  We just might need to get that ipad soon!

As I struggle with the possibillity that Jack may not speak for a long time and maybe never really coherently, I am saddened.  His brain seems not to be able to organize and get out his words.  You can work on blowing out candles, bubbles, practicing speech sounds and words but how to you fix someone's brain? My default seems to be work longer, push harder and we will succeed.  I recognize that this is really beyond me no matter how hard we work.  But I choose to continue to work with Jack in a reasonable commitment for both he and I.  I pray that God will guide us to the resources and answers we need to help him and ultimately I believe that God has a lot to say through Jack to the world so I need to trust that He will bring about all things in His time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Speech Apraxia: am I signing loud enough?

So after months and months of intensive speech therapy, Jack still struggles to get his words out.  Am I missing something here?  Yesterday we were playing "horsie" in the backyard.  The rope tied loosely around Jack's waist, I called out "giddy-up horse, neigh, neigh".  A clear and precise "neigh, neigh" escaped from Jack's mouth in return with no effort.  You see the harder he tries to say something, the less likely it is to come out at all.  He signs more than 150 signs now and one of the research documents I have consulted has warned that speech production is priority now, let the signing diminish.  But try as we might, Jack's brain cannot send the sounds and words to his mouth.  It is not an oral motor issue.  He can blow bubbles and pucker like the best of them.  It is a brain issue.  Can you work hard to train the brain like you can a muscle?  It seems a little daunting to me at this point.

Here is an excerpt from an article called You said it yesterday, why not now?  After seeing that Jack's speech challenges reflect most of the items on the list of symptoms...I am thinking we need a new strategy here.  Any ideas?

Developmental apraxia of speech (DAS) is defined as a cluster of characteristics of speech.  The most frequently reported symptoms of DAS are:

  • Struggling or groping when speaking or trying to speak.  He seems to be working hard to talk, but the correct sounds are not coming out.
  • Inconsistency in sound and speech production.  One time, he can say a sound or a word clearly, but at other times he has great difficulty with the same sound or word.
  • A limited repertoire of phonemes.  He tends to use a small number of sounds.  More vowels are used without consonants attached, which makes the speech hard to understand.
  • Automatic phrases and movements may be clear, but his intelligibility is worse during spontaneous speech.  He may say "I don't care" or "I don't know" very clearly but have great difficulty in spontaneous conversation or when asked for a specific answer to a question.
  • Difficulty combining and sequencing phonemes.  He maybe able to imitate or produce individual sounds but when he tries to combine them into words, he has difficulty, especially as the words get s longer or more complex.  He can say "ham", but when he says "hamburger" it may come out as "hangurber".  "Banana" may be "nabana". Sounds and syllables are frequently reversed.
  • Decrease in intelligibility as utterance length increases.  He has more difficulty with longer words and phrases.  So, he may say "key"  easily, but have difficulty with "monkey" or "monkey bars".
  • Prosodic or rhythm difficulties.  He may talk slowly or rapidly or have and uneven pace.

Also according to the article we should have a daily repetition and drill, continuted signing, and play slower versions of songs for Jack to be able to attempt to sing along with amongst other strategies.  Maybe we will be adding another signing time series to our well loved library after all.

A nosy lady with an iphone catches Jack iphone is, of course, way more interesting.

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