Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Yes, I am guilty of bribery, but I like to think of it as intelligent motivation on my part.

Each weekday I work with my son on his speech. Our therapist is wonderful and every time we go for a session she gives me tools to work with him at home. I also homeschool him through an online school in Colorado. His teacher there is fantastic and it so willing to work with me.

We spend hours each day going through mouth exercises, making sounds, doing flashcards, working on the computer, learning to read, and reading books. Some times, okay a lot of times, he'd rather play than work (what kid wouldn't?). So I've had to find a way to motivate him to keep working.

I've learned that if I use food to bribe him it works well. Amazing how fast he works through a lesson on the computer, correctly, when he has motivation. I've also found that letting him do activities he likes in between the things he needs to do works well. Doing a puzzle, playing an educational game on the iPad, or jumping on the trampoline all work for him. The key is finding what works each day.

Yesterday, after he completed an activity, the therapist set a timer and let him play with toys until the timer went off. Then it was back to work. She also uses mini M&Ms as motivation.

He's willing to work harder and longer when there's something he wants in the mix. And he's learning delayed gratification. So while it may sound like bribery, if it works to help him learn to speak and to do his schoolwork, then it can't be as bad as it sounds, right?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gap Between Sounds and Words

Before I had my son with DS, I never thought much about speech. My kids started talking and that was it. They didn't struggle with speech at all. I never realized all the steps that have to fall into place for a child to speak--steps that just came naturally with my other nine kids. My son knows the names of the alphabet. He will see a word and spontaneously start saying the names of the letters that spell it. We've been trying to make the shift from naming the letters to saying their sounds. He can say the sounds for 70% of the letters. "K" and "F" sounds are hard for him. His therpist has found a program (Kaufman) that helps kids bridge the gap between saying the sounds and combining them into words. Our goal is to teach my son how to take the sounds and make them into words. He's starting to do that with "moo" and a few other words. What's interesting is that he says some words naturally that he learned on his own. I'm not sure why he's learned some words like, "mom," without any intervention but needs help with other words. His therpist thinks he has apraxia, which means his brain sends the word to his mouth, but his lips and muscles don't move correctly to form the word and it comes out garbled. Fortunately, therapy helps kids overcome apraxia. We practice saying the same sound combinations over and over again to train his mouth muscles. If I'd known I'd have a son that needed speech therapy, I would've studied it in college so I could be more helpful to him. At times, I feel like a failure because I'm his mom and I should know how to teach him to speak. Thankfully, we've found this amazing therapist (who in yesterday's session demonstrated she has the patience of Job) that can help us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great Online Reading Program

I found a really good online reading program. While reading the info about it, I found a section that said it has helped kids with special needs learn to read. Typical kids need to be exposed to words a few hundred times before they master that word. Kids with DS need to be exposed a thousand times (or something like that). I figured that if I can expose my son to reading in as many different ways as possible it will set him up for his best shot at success. The program is ClickNRead. I bought the version with Looney Tunes because my son gets bored so easily. The regular version is $19.99 for a year. Looney Tunes is $29.99 for a year. I also added the spelling program, but my son isn't ready for that one. He loves this program. He can find it himself and he does. He'll sit through the lesson and participate all on his own. Right now in speech therapy we are working on sounds and this reading program focuses on the sounds of each letter. Perfect timing. I'm really excited about it and hope it will help him learn to read. And maybe even talk.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Speech Therapy: Awesome

We had our first speech therapy session on Monday. It was a-ma-zing. I'm thrilled. The therapist had emailed me a report from her evaluation a few weeks ago. I wasn't surprised by her findings, but I was shocked to see a set of goals to be met in 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. Realistic goals and a plan to meet those goals. Wow! I've never had a therapist do this. We have goals and ways to meet them. I feel so invigorated. Like my son will actually talk at some point. I am a total list person. So a list of goals is perfect for me. Concrete plans. I love it! I am so energized and excited to see what happens. We have been working on tongue/mouth movements as well as sound cues. I give my son a visible cue and then he repeats the sound associated with that cue. He's been doing great and is even making some of the sounds without the cues. We're already making progress. Wish I'd found this therapist years ago!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Getting Our Groove Back

We really enjoyed summer break. My son played with his siblings, spent a lot of time jumping on the trampoline, played with toys, went swimming, and used his educational computer games. I try very hard each summer to have a schedule, but it's a much different schedule than the school year. I like to let my kids have plenty of time to play, make crafts, read, practice the piano, and relax after a school year filled with so many demands. We also do chores, weed the garden, and work on bigger projects like deep cleaning bedrooms (not my kids' favorite). I started my son in his online school last week and we are still struggling to find that groove. He'd rather play than do school. Well, of course he would. Who wouldn't? I'm hoping this week will allow us to get back into a schedule so we can get more school work done. I'm looking forward to this school year and the possibilities ahead. I'm excited for him to learn and grow this year. We just need to get our groove back :).