Friday, October 21, 2011

Speech

Let me start off by saying I am by no means a speech expert. In fact, I am far from it. However, I do find it VERY helpful when parents share their ideas with me. Not every kid learns the say way so it's important we continue to try new things until we find a way that clicks. 

Our number one concern with both boys is their speech (and the fact that Eli is nearly two and I am still carrying his chunky butt around...it's time to walk already dude!). We recently sought out a speech therapist outside of early intervention. I was tired of playing the game, being told we would start next month and that turning into 2 and 3 months of waiting. Before I knew it, Elijah was 20 months and had NEVER had a speech therapy session. He had been evaluated and told that we needed weekly ST, but there was no one available to see him. Thank you state of Illinois for being in such a financial tailspin that you can not pay the EI providers for weeks and months on end. Don't even get me started on that. 

After being told Elijah would start speech as soon as the kids went back to school and then being told 3 weeks after school started that they didn't have anyone to see him, I flipped my lid. Word were exchanged and I decided no matter the price, Elijah NEEDED speech. 

We were blessed to find an AMAZING therapist and in the 5 weeks Mrs. Ali has been seeing Elijah, we have seen major verbal advancement. Thank you Jesus!

Malachi is another story. From day one he has had feeding issues. He is my sensory kid and wanted nothing to do with chunks of any kind. He ate stage 1 baby food well into his 2nd year of life. In the last year or so we have been getting a larger variity into his diet, but it's still a struggle. He eats yogurt, applesauce, chicken, lunch meat, hot dogs and pretzel rods. That is it.  His verbal noises have been minimal and only says 3 words on a consistent basis, yeah, no and ok. In the past few weeks we have seen great progress with him imitating sounds and words but he still has a LONG way to go. 

Here is what we have been working on.



This is Malachi speech binder. He brings it to school daily where Mrs. T works on it with him. We work on it at home nightly too. It's a simple binder with laminated sentences in it. This one simply says "I see.." a black spider, an orange pumpkin, a while ghost and so on. Malachi matches the pictures by putting them in the sentence. We say it and we sign it. 



This Is a new story we got this week that focuses on the "up" and "Whee" sounds. It's a simple book that repeats up and whee over and over again. Each page has a removable image that Malachi can put on after he makes the required sound. It's supposed to be a reward but Malachi could care less so we often sing a quick song after each page. 




These are Elijah's sound cards. Each day we practice making the sounds on the cards. He has done very well with these. A few of the sounds are "hohoho", "woo woo" and "moo moo". We have a few copies of the cards and get creative with them. Mrs. Ali attached them to foam fish and put a magnet on the other side. She has a fishing pole that he uses to catch a fish and then he is required to make the noise that is on the fish. It's a fun way to mix things up.

The sound cards come from this book which I can't speak more highly of. It's technically for children with Apraxia, which Elijah does not have, but we have found the same techniques taught in this book he responds well to. It goes into a lot of oral motor planning and had gestures that represent sounds. So far it's be a wonderful resource for us. Unfortunately the book is $300 and is on loan to us but is totally worth the investment!

What do you do at home to encourage speech? Do you have any good ideas that your children have been successful with? I would LOVE to hear!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Conference time!

We had Malachi's first ever school conference last night! I'll be honest I was worried. My biggest worry you ask? It sounds silly but I was worried that the staff wasn't going to like him. Crazy thinking I know but it was my biggest fear!

His teacher is nice but I've never got that warm fuzzy feeling from her. Up until last night she had never swooned over Malachi, like all who meet him do. He has the smile and personality that just wraps around your heart and holds on tightly. At the same time, Malachi can be a handful. He is confident, stubborn, independent and defiant. He has the ability to drive a person mad, trust me I know. No one ever wants their child to be "that kid" the one teachers hope are absent, the one who is constantly in trouble and the one they can't wait to get rid of at the end of the year. Yes, I WAS worried that Malachi was "that kid" to the staff in his classroom.

I was AMAZED when I walked in the door and heard NOTHING but good new about him. He is referred to as "the peach" by his teacher which delighted my soul. He does require a stern voice but generally does what it expected of him. He is understanding the concept of his picture schedule and know's to check it first thing in the morning. They commented on his love of music and how they often use that as a reward. He still prefers to play alone but is often the leader of the giggles at snack time and gets all the boys laughing (he has no girls in his class). He enjoys working on the smart board, especially watching his shadow. He can now do a 4 piece puzzle (woo hoo!) and and correctly identify 4-6 colors. They commented on how quickly he picks up new signs (sometimes up to 5 new words a day). Speech is still our biggest concern but his Speech therapist sees great attempts at saying new words. We clap out the syllables for him and they seems to help him. She is starting to notice him using the beginning sound of a word to get what he wants. For example "mmm" for more and "uh" for up. We are starting new jaw strengthening exercises at home to help decrease the drooling and increase proper chewing. His speech therapist is fantastic we are very thankful for her!

Last nights meeting assured me that Malachi is in the right place with the right team around him and we are so thankful for that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Elijah





Can you believe that this little smiley, fun loving, dare devil, food hound is going to be 2 in a few weeks? Yep, neither can I.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I suck.

Sorry, sorry, sorry for the crappy job I've been doing with the blog lately. Thanks for sticking around despite my extreme lack of posting.


In honor of Malachi's first 2 months of school being completed, I figured I'd show you what he has been working on. Right now our focus is colors and shapes. Malachi knows all the signs for the colors but can not recognize them for the life of him. I borrowed a laminator from Elijah's speech therapist and got to work making very simple flash cards. Malachi has poor vision and nystagmus, he struggles with visually overwhelming pictures so simple it is.



On the back I put the sign language for each sign as a quick reference for those who don't know.

The other thing we are working on are shapes and matching. Puzzles have always been a struggle for Malachi because they can be visually overwhelming. This is our take on a puzzle, shape identification and matching all in one. 


Each paper have 2 shapes on it. Malachi is given a choice between 2 shapes in my hand. One begin a shape on the page the other doesn't match. He can place the shape on top of it's duplicate. This has been so helpful for him. He get's frustrated and uninterested if he is visually overwhelmed this allows him to learn and gives him to ability to succeed! 
These shapes double as flash cards as well. I found it eaiser if I showed him the actual shape rather than a picture of a heart on a rectangle card.

I would love to hear what you have made for your kiddo's!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The wheeze

The infamous wheeze is back and ready to take a hold of my wee one's lungs! Croup has grabbed a hold of Elijah and with each bark, I mean cough, he winces in pain. He sounds like there is molasses in his lungs and not even the best pharmaceuticals have been able to rid him of this beast! The hum of the nebulizer has been constant in our house, I'm even hearing ghost treatments going on while I sleep. Tomorrow will make the 3rd week of these shenanigans and I, for one, am ready to set it off on it's maiden voyage right out of our house, complete with the bubbly bottle of goodness...anyone else need a glass?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A little about Elijah

Oh my sweet little Elijah, what can I share with the world about your personality...hmm...OH WAIT, I got it.

Elijah is hungry. Yes he is hungry in the tummy rumbling sense. He eats everything in sight, seriously. I found out today the he only weighs 2lbs LESS than Malachi. Food hungry is not what I am talking about though. Elijah is hungry for knowledge. His brain is a sponge and we often find him sitting and watching the world around him. He is quick to master new tasks and gets frustrated when he is not successful on the first try. He watches mouths as if he is trying to read lips and is constantly trying to make new sounds. Although things like speech, gross motor and fine motor are still a struggle, Elijah is hungry to learn.

It's one of the many things I love about this little man and a character trait that will take him far. It is our prayer that he continues to seek and accomplish all that he sets his mind to. Isn't that something we all wish for our children? Those with special needs and those without?

Monday, October 3, 2011

That time again

It's October and that not only means it is fall but also Down syndrome awareness month! Many of you are posting each day to educate your readers which is AWESOME. I believe strongly in education and this is a great opportunity for many. This year, however, I decided I didn't want to do the typical 31 for 21 posts. I wanted it to be more personal, more about my children being more alike than different. I wanted my blog posts to educate people one one simple fact, that my children are just that...children...like yours the ones who walked at a year and talked at two, the ones who are happy and well adjusted, the ones who participate in extracurricular activities and the ones who laugh when you make a silly face. Yes my children have Down syndrome but that's not the only thing that defines who they are as children. There is a whole gamut of personality traits that lay behind those almond shaped eyes and my hope is that this October you will be educated not only on Down syndrome but on my children as a whole. They are full beings and can be described as so much more than "the kid with Down syndrome."

My hope is that over the next month you learn something about yourself while learning about my amazing children. My posts will not happen daily as two busy toddlers keep me running from here to there but I will do my best to post at least twice a week! So pull up a chair, get some Kleenex and get ready to fall in LOVE with two beautiful little men.