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.
- 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 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.