Learning with Apraxia

I've been a little anxious ~ ok a lot anxious and for a long time ~ about starting school with Joshua.

When he was 2 years old and was referred to speech therapy, there were a lot of assumptions about his cognitive abilities. We were told things like..."If he can only speak in 1-2 word utterances then he can only understand 1-2 word phrases. Instead of saying, "Joshua, go upstairs and get your shoes..." we should say, "Get Shoes." This was a very sad time for me and very difficult for our family as a whole. We drove to San Diego twice a week for speech therapy that just didn't seem to be getting us anywhere. By 2 and a half the speech therapist considered using an alternative communication device for him as they thought he might never speak intelligibly.

Flash forward to his 3rd birthday...we found a speech therapy office much closer to home and decided to give it a try. Joshua was evaluated and the SLP mentioned that he might have "Apraxia of Speech." I balked assuming that this was some new "fad" diagnosis. She went on to explain that Joshua's "receptive language" was extremely high for his age. Huh? What? He understood and could identify vocabulary up to 2 years OVER his age. On the other hand, his "expressive language" (what he could SAY) was at about the level of a 9 month old. I had to ask her again..."so you are saying there is a chance he is smart?!?" Yes. He was and still is very intelligent. But based on the previous speech evaluations and our own interpretation of his speech - we were assuming he was, uh er, not so smart.

The more I began to research Apraxia ~ the more I realized it was exactly what Joshua was experiencing. By definition, Apraxia looks like this:

a child with the diagnosis of apraxia of speech has difficulty
programming and planning speech movements.

In other words, there is a disconnect between what the brain wants to say and what comes out of his mouth. Much like an adult that has had a stroke. Many times they don't even realize what they are saying is wrong. They just can't make the right sounds of words come of the mouth.

When Joshua turned 4, I accidentally discovered that he knew all of his letters. I had letter flash cards out to work with Nicole and I asked her to point to a certain letter. He showed her the right answer. He couldn't SAY the name of the letter...but he knew what it was. And then I discovered that not only did he know all 26 letters by name ~ but he could identify them by the sounds they each made. He had absorbed all of this knowledge 2nd hand...by me working with Nicole. But he still couldn't SAY the names of the letters. Mostly because he is physically unable to link a consonant to the "E" sound. Think about it...B C D E G P T V and Z all have the "E" sound in them. But they all come out sounds like "E."

Midway through last year I discovered he could segment the word to make it easier to understand. We used this method for working on letters. This looks like: buh-E (for B) and tuh-E (for T). It helped but it was still frustrating for all of us. And so, you can imagine, I was nervous about this year.

Joshua started "kindergarten" 2 weeks ago. I decided to ease the frustration of the alphabet...we would learn to sign (American Sign Language) our ABC's. After 2 weeks he can sign all 26 letters to the "tune" of the ABC's. Whenever I ask him to identify a letter, he says it the best he can AND he signs the letter. Somewhere along the way I also read that ditty's and repetition are life-savers for kids with Apraxia. So I looked up some Calendar songs on the internet and we started singing them 1 week ago.

Months of the Year (sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians)
January, February
March and April
May, June
July and August
December...these are the months of the year.

Day of the Week (sung to the tune of Oh' My Darlin')
There are 7 days, There are 7 days,
There are 7 days in a week.
Sunday, Monday
Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday

Today, I asked the kids if anyone remember the name of the month. I was looking for the name of the current month (especially since it had just changed) but Joshua shot his hand up and started SINGING all 12 months of the year. Now....would a stranger on the street have any idea what he was saying? No. But he was was singing the tune and saying the words well enough that I KNEW he new the names of all 12 months. Amazing! I think I'll be making up some more learning songs for Joshua this year!

Most of all, I am praising God right now for the opportunity and ability to teach my son. In California, we were told a lot of things about his education...and how he would be handled in a classroom setting because of his speech...and none of them were acceptable to us. I am so thankful that God has equipped me for the work of teaching Joshua the way he learns best in an environment that will never limit his learning potential. All Glory to God for Joshy's smart little brain :)


What We Eat...30 Days Worth of Dinner

I finally did it...

I made a menu for the WHOLE month of September.

Really...I did.

I figure if I am going to travel to the city once-a-month for groceries I better be organized! And since school has started and my husband is now on midnights again...well, further proof of my need to be organized. Oh yeah - and one more...there is no where to eat out here. So I MUST cook or we don't eat.

So this isn't fancy or anything gourmet...but it is our Gluten-Free/ Dairy Free life and we make the most of it!

1 - Fried Chicken (w/ GF Bread crumbs)
2 - Tacos
3 - Leftovers
4 - Chicken w/ Zucchini & Tomatoes
5 - Ham & Bean Soup
6 - Leftovers
7 - Teriyaki Beef Sticks
8 - Bratwurst
9 - Spaghetti
10 - Grilled Lamb
11 - Leftovers
12- Spaghetti Casserole
13 - Sticky Chicken
14 - Fresh Fish
15 - Hamburgers
16 - Texas Chili
17 - Chicken Fingers
18 - Leftovers
19 - Tacos
20 - Stir Fry
21 - Marinated Chicken Breasts (grill)
22 - Leftovers
23 - Lamb Stew
24 - Oven Roasted Chicken (whole)
25 - Leftovers
26 - Roast
27 - Spaghetti
28 - Carnitas
29 - Fried Rice
30 - Homemade Pizza

Vegetables and Sides will vary largely on what's available and what we are in the mood for. We eat a LOT of rice and potatoes since those are really the only sides we can have. We will also be eating a LOT of zucchini and green beans from the garden this month.

I confess that I will not abide by this menu every night. It is just a relief to have an idea on paper...and know that I have the ingredients on hand. Our closest grocery store is 30 miles (we do have a small market in town but their selection is limited and they close at 5:30). Not always so helpful. As I was typing this I realized that I have a lot of leftover nights planned - but if we don't eat them they go to waste...so we might as well plan on eating them.

So hooray for organization! Hope you have a blessed month!