Tagged "conversation"


Elizabeth: Speech Goals

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Goals.

My wish list.

Two things that I have carried with me since Elizabeth was born. Actually, more like since the minute she was diagnosed.

Goals and my wish list.

I have carried these things around like two best friends. I checked in with them often, planned things around them, and happily checked things off of them when Elizabeth did something new.

They have never left me in all these years, and I feel, if I am being truthful, that they will probably always be with me for Elizabeth. But they have changed shape, that is for sure:

  • - I just hope she can say the last part of her words.
  • - I want her to get the chance and try to go into this class room.
  • - I hope she will talk to some kids on recess.
  • - I want to work with her on her writing.
  • - I want her to learn to text her friends.
  • - She needs to learn to sign her name in cursive.

Yes! It has changed, but the one thing on the list that continues to be there after each flip of the calendar year is her speech goals.

Speech is this inherent part of Elizabeth needs. Her dyspraxia is quite severe and as such we have fought long and hard for any and all gains in the speech realm. 

But with dyspraxia, those goals took extra work because those with dyspraxia form habits very quickly. Be they good habits, like saying a word correctly, or bad habits, like misarticulations. Well, these bad habits are SERIOUSLY hard to break.  It is like once they are formed, they become so strong!  So we learned to learn things correctly the first time. Perhaps we learned this a little late in the game but we learned it nonetheless.

Speech Goal #1

So back to the goals and wish list… right now in Elizabeth’s speech life, we are working on social speech. The kind of thing that requires, among other things:

  • - Thinking about what someone said.

  • - Answering on topic.

  • - Staying on topic.

  • - Allowing everyone a turn.

The dyspraxic mind typically has trouble with organization of thoughts and information, so these goals are kind of tough for Elizabeth when she is stressed or too much is going on in her life. Someone will ask her a question about X and she will answer about Y. I know why it is happening but the poor store clerk does not. So we talk to her a lot about focusing and staying on topic.

Speech Goal #2

Another fan favorite on the goals is for her to OPEN her mouth when she talks. For her, any anxiety shows itself in her talking as if her teeth are glued together. Try it now. It is very hard to be understood this way, and that is for those of us who do NOT have dyspraxia, so imagine how hard communication is for her. So she hears plenty of “Open your mouth, Elizabeth, breath and talk.”

Yes, I am sure she is having a ball with me on those days.

Speech Goal #3

Directly related to the above goal is the new addition of singing lessons for Elizabeth.  She loves, loves, loves music and loves to sing, so we contacted a wonderful lady to work with Elizabeth. It is not just singing, it includes:

  • - Muscle work for her jaw and mouth.

  • - Deep breathing exercises.

  • - Focusing.

  • - Projecting her voice.

  • - Even reading, as they read and sing current songs.

Here is something to know, for those of you with older children: it is so important in my opinion to keep things age appropriate. Something that boosts their self-esteem is huge!

Elizabeth loves this and there is follow-up work for us at home! So win-win!

It is odd to think about it but we don’t GO to speech therapy in a pure sense anymore, we work on goals each and every day. (If you ask Elizabeth, she would say every minute.) But we do not have regular speech classes. We check in with Mary often, readjust a goal or two but we do most of our work in social settings now. Because that is where we find the need.

And that brings me up to the last update for Elizabeth.   

Speech Goal #4

Find the need. Once you understand your child, their disorders or needs, then you can start to find ways to help them. And as their needs change, so does the therapy. In our case, these needs lead us out into the world now. Into the world to talk, to engage in proper conversation, to communicate thoughts and needs. Actually, it is a pretty big undertaking now but this is where we find ourselves.

Speaking of which, I can hear Elizabeth loudly complaining that her brother took the T.V. and it was not his turn. So, I will go now to referee an argument, an argument that likely would not have happened had we not done all we did. We will keep working and encouraging because she is worth it all.

-Michele Gianetti 

Michele writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.

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Socialization at school

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

peer-group 

Sometimes it is weird how you will look back on certain times in your life and see the struggles you had quite clearly.  But at the time, you are simply so in the moment that you don’t really realize just how tough it was.  I will use the example of how we handled the socialization at school.

When your child has special needs, their road in life is unique.  Filled with milestones that occur on their time frame.  One of the huge milestones in life is the biggest social scene called school, be it preschool or Kindergarten.

Elizabeth, as many know, has Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD and Global Dyspraxia.  Both conditions affect her ability to:

  • Talk,
  • Interact with peers,
  • Be comfortable in public situations.

So, how to begin?

WITH THE TEACHERS

When we entered Elizabeth into her first preschool, we made sure to inform them of her disorders, giving them examples of how Elizabeth might act when overwhelmed or frightened.  But what we did not do was work with Elizabeth on how to act or behave.  I think we were so darned proud of the fact that she was in the preschool and wanted to be there and was happy to be there, that we allowed the teachers and staff to help us learn the ways this thing called preschool worked.  We learned to work with the teachers and truly, the pressure was off here as she was still so young.

We began to see just how social Elizabeth was when she entered her Pre-K program.  Here things got a bit more serious as they did:

  • School work,

  • Gym class,

  • Participated in stations for learning,

  • Prepared them for entry into school.

I think this time was so fun for Elizabeth, she loved being with the other children, but her language held her back a great deal.  It was here that we began to really rely on the teachers to encourage interactions and friendships inside the classroom.  Again, it is important to remember that we told them all about Elizabeth which is something that can never not be done.  But we also found ourselves asking about these buddies and friendships.  It is hard to watch typical interactions taking place around you when your child is not capable of those things.  But I offer out, that sharing your thoughts and feelings with these teachers can help tremendously.

How to continue?

WITH SOCIAL STORIES

We started reading social stories to Elizabeth, started discussing them with Elizabeth. For children with special needs, it is the repetition and frequency of things that helps them process information.  So with that in mind, we read the stories often.

We would at times:

  • Adapt them to her situations at school,

  • Write ones to fit her needs,

  • Write funny ones to help make a point.

These stories are a wonderful springboard for a discussion (be it more one way than two way due to Elizabeth’s speech delays).  But the ideas and thoughts start to flow and that can never be a bad thing.

What to do next?

MEET UP WITH A FRIEND

Sure I could mean you meeting up with a friend to vent, but in this case I mean a friend for your child. J Yes, as much as this may send a cold wash of fear over you to read, it is something that we did at an early time.  It was not easy, it was not relaxing, but Elizabeth was happy to have the time with a friend.  Sometimes it went so well and other times I was hyper-aware of how uncomfortable the whole situation was.

But we tried it again. And we talked about it after the time was done. And we talked some more. All of which helped Elizabeth grow.

How to continue?

TALK, TALK, AND WHEN YOU ARE DONE … TALK MORE

The thing about social stories is that they are neat, tidy and everyone says everything just right. These are helpful and needed stories but I will say from vast personal experience, that never, not one time did something go just like a social story says it would.  There would always be some renegade person who would be in line at the store and instead of saying what the script said they would, they would say how pretty Elizabeth was or ask what grade she was in and then all bets were off as to the responses from there.

So as tough as those early socializations were, we learned that:

  • Talking through the experience helped Elizabeth learn for the next time.

  • Talking through what was good helped reinforce positive thoughts for the next time.

  • Talking through events helped me be able to share my feelings and thoughts with Elizabeth and helped her understand her feelings as well.

Talking, in my opinion (ask my family) has always been a good thing!  Never underestimate the positive things that can come from spending time together talking and sharing.

So how to conclude?

THEY CAN ACHIEVE

Socialization is one of those things that you are part of, that you have grown with, and that you can continue to make gains with.  If you think about it, we are all never done growing in social ways with how we wish to present ourselves in certain situations, when making a presentation or even how to handle a disagreement.  So our children are simply growing as well.  We need to be there to help them take the next step that others take automatically.

  • Use examples of everyday experiences to help them.

  • Encourage expressions of any emotion.

  • Praise them for trying.

  • Encourage them if they fail.

  • Let them know you believe in them, always.

I wish you all some great conversations be them, via communication boards, devices, full of short sentences or long beautiful ones … It all counts and it all matters.

-Michele Gianetti

Michele writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.

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