Sunday, March 13, 2011

After two word combinations start - What's next?

You’ve finally gotten to the point where you’re hearing some two or even three word combinations.  It’s wonderful and every time you hear one a scene not unlike a New Year’s celebration unfolds in your mind. So, what’s next?

You have so many choices here, and they will vary from child to child.  I’m just going to walk you through my mental processes where Ava is concerned.  I could choose to work on specific sounds she’s still missing.  She has no /k/, /g/, /z/, /l/, /J/, /f/, /v/, ...  I could choose to work on final consonants.  She doesn’t use any.  So “dog” is /da/,  “milk” is /mi/, “book” is /buh/, and so on.  The way I would approach that would be to choose words that end with a sound I know she can make and try to get her to imitate putting that final sound on the word.  However, I’m not going to do any of those things.  

 They wouldn’t be bad things to work on exactly, but those aren’t the right choices from a motor speech perspective.  Remember when I talked about why apraxia therapy needed to be different from other kinds of speech therapy?  Some therapy is designed to address specific missing or mispronounced sounds (articulation therapy).  Some therapy is designed to address patterns of errors like the fact that Ava is dropping all consonants at the ends of words (phonological processing therapy).  And then there’s the motor speech therapy that is best for apraxia. 

Ava has trouble with motor planning.  Combining syllables and words is difficult and effortful.  Even though she can do it successfully some of the time now, it tends to be through the use of carrier phrases or words and phrases that we use a lot and are over-practiced.  Or they are combinations that are very simple from a motor planning perspective.  So, for example, “mama’s milk” /ma ma mi/ is pretty simple because the consonant is the same and she only has to change the vowel.  That’s just like “baby” /ba bee/ and “banana” /nah nuh/ are fairly simple for the same reason.   It’s the same consonant with only a changed vowel.

The next step we’re going to focus on, therefore, is to stick with working on two syllable or two word phrases, but to try to make them more complicated.  Try combinations where the vowel is the same, but the consonant changes (beanie, beady, kiwi, teeny, teepee).  Then try combinations where both the vowel and the consonant changes (pony, kitty, me too, my toe, no way, see me).  So that’s the idea.  Casually, through the day, I’m still very much doing all of the things I talked about in my therapy techniques to stimulate two word phrases post.  During my focused therapy sessions, I’m trying exercises to increase the complexity of the two word or syllable phrases she can produce. 

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