Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Apologies and Remorse Serve a Purpose

Before our road trip to LA for the holidays my husband decided to get the oil change the minivan needed. He didn't have time to do it himself, so he took it to the dealer the day before our trip. While he was there, they reminded him about a recall repair that needed to be done and said they could do that too if he was willing to wait an extra hour. He agreed.

Several hours later they were finally done. He maneuvered the van through their lot and came to the driveway of the lot where he needed to stop and wait for a break in traffic before pulling out onto the main road. Simple enough. All drivers stop before pulling into traffic several times each excursion. It should have been simple this time too, except that his brakes didn't work.

After a moment of panic, he managed to pump the breaks enough to stop and then turned right around and went back into the service area of the dealership. And instead of apologizing profusely about how they put his life and the lives of others in danger, they simply said they'd take a look at it as soon as possible.

To make a long story short, he was told that the repairman neglected to "bleed the brakes." I don't really know what that means, but my husband assures me that it is an inexcusable error that resulted in dramatically reduced brake performance.

He never did receive an apology. He just lost additional hours of precious time. Upon hearing the story I was appalled. Their error risked his life and the lives of any vehicle that might have been in his path. We were just lucky that he had to stop to wait for a break in traffic. If he had been able to just pull out, the first time he needed to brake might have been at a busy intersection.

I can't believe they didn't apologize. And then call out a manager and get him or her to apologize. And then ask what they could do to make it up to us. I know we live in a litigious society and to apologize is to insinuate guilt and put yourself and your organization at risk. I'm guessing that is why he didn't receive an apology. However, as a wife who recognizes that her husband's life was endangered, my heart craves an apology. I'm not looking to sue anyone, I just want to see some sincere remorse for such a huge mistake.

Clearly, we'll never return to that dealership. Somehow that doesn't feel like enough though. The incident still lingers in my mind a month later. It pops into my head every time we brake.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Anticipating a Child-Free Evening

My parents offered to take both children overnight Saturday night. My dad picked the children up early and took them swimming. My parents were going to keep the children all day Saturday, overnight, and most of the day Sunday. It was the first child-free time my husband and I had in over two, very stressful months.

Needless to say, my husband and I were very excited. 36 hours of freedom for parents of young children is no small thing. We went to lunch at a restaurant by ourselves. We did a little shopping by ourselves. Then we headed home for the main event. The plan was to get back in touch with our pre-parenthood selves by playing a game. My husband bought Skyrim (big fantasy adventure game) and we planned to stay up until the wee hours of the night playing. Then sleep in and play again the next day until the children came home. I get that many of you might choose another way to celebrate freedom, but we were pretty excited about our plan.

We were about two hours into playing (which is the tip of a very large iceberg) when the phone rang. My mom wanted to let me know that Ava woke up from her afternoon nap with a croupy cough. (Internal dialog: Oh no!!! Please don't let this ruin our night off!) I told her we would bring by a humidifier and some ibuprofen for the night. She told me to just leave them on the porch so that Ava wouldn't see us and ask to come home.

An hour and a half later we stopped playing and gathered the requested items. I called my mom to let her know we were on our way. In a concerned tone, she told me we'd better come in and listen to her ourselves. I knew this was a bad sign. When we walked in to my parents living room I could hear the stridor in Ava's breathing. It was clearly audible with every inhalation even though all she was doing was calmly watching television. You could see her upper chest suck inwards with effort (retraction) at every breath.

It was clear that we would probably need to go to the ER. Again. I wanted to call our pediatrician's office though and see if there was any possible way to avoid the trip. Perhaps we could try an oral steroid first? We gave Ava an ibuprofen and left her at my parents. The stridor always gets worse when she gets upset and making her leave would have upset her. It took me an hour and a half to finally get someone on the phone and talk them into calling in a prescription.

We picked up Ava from my parents house and drove her to the 24 hour pharmacy with us leaving the windows cracked (cool air helps soothe stridor). I got the medicine in her at 8pm and we drove around for two more hours before going home. She was calm in the car and we wanted to give the medicine a chance to kick in before trying to put her to bed. She was in bed at 10:30 and back up at 11:30 panicking during a coughing fit. I calmed her as quickly as possible to minimize the stridor fallout and didn't manage to leave her room until after midnight. She was back up again at 1am and 2:30am. Then, finally, she stayed down until morning.

The next day she still had audible stridor about 50% of the time, but there was no retraction and her mood and energy level were mostly appropriate so we were mostly out of the woods. We avoided the ER trip by the narrowest margin.

Not anywhere close to the 36 hours of child-free time we had been anticipating, but one health crisis narrowly averted so still a win. Is it terrible that I'm wondering if I can convince my parents to give us a make-up weekend?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Update: The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore - Free

A few days ago I wrote about an animated short/iPad app called The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore. On January 24, 2012 it was nominated for an Oscar. They deserve the nomination and I hope they win.

In honor of the nomination, the animated short is free on iTunes until February 26th (the night of the Oscars). You can watch it for free here. You can also download it in regular or high definition for free to keep on iTunes. Watching this is definitely worth 15 minutes of your time.

I enjoyed reading this article on Morris Lessmore and the nomination. I also enjoyed watching this short video of the team that produced Lessmore waiting to see if they had received the nomination and their subsequent reaction.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How do you know?

We were at the play place at the mall last night. The children were having an amazing time. Michael loved it when a 15 month old baby followed him around trying to give him hugs. Ava was inside a tent like structure with three other girls about her age and appeared to be having a great time. It was idyllic.

Then Ava exited the tent and was running towards us. I think she just wanted to tell us something. First she tripped over one structure. I saw it. She got right back up and continued towards us looking back over her shoulder at the offending structure. So, of course, she stumbled right across the next thing in her path.

She fell with her right arm twisted beneath her. I knew right away that I needed to go to her. This wasn't a wait and see if she shakes it off kind of situation. I was concerned about the arm and shoulder. She was crying and I scooped her up and cradled her in my lap. Often, if the injury is minor, she'll be off again after a short cuddle, but not this time.

She was crying that her hand hurt. In that moment it looked like the area on the top of her hand around the middle two knuckles was swelling up and red. Her fingers weren't moving and quivered a little. I can admit it. I panicked a little. I scooped her up and rushed her over to my husband. Meeting his eyes and giving him a significant look, I told him I thought her hand was -hurt-.

Now when we looked together, I could no longer detect anything that looked like redness or swelling. She was able to tolerate having her fingers wiggled and bent a little. When we asked her to get her shoes, she held one in each hand. I was starting to feel better and a little silly about overreacting.

But then, she didn't go back to playing. And she was favoring the hand. She wouldn't use it to play "high five." She was visibly scared when I tried to hold that hand instead of the other when leaving the mall. She was extremely careful when I unbuckled her from her carseat to take that arm out from the straps of the 5-point harness without bumping the hand at all.

I just wasn't sure what to think. Even with all that it didn't seem like an ER on a Friday night kind of situation. Give some ibuprofen, wait, and observe seemed to be the most prudent choice. I hate the uncertainty though. How do you know how serious something is?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Weekly Review: Week 45

Ava this Week

Ava had a hidden talent that has recently become quite prominent. She is a born manipulator. She is impressively good. She has started having trouble falling asleep at night. She'll leave her room over and over and over. Sometimes this will go on for 90 minutes and the number of excursions will reach 8-10.

Now, I have a plan. The plan is to not interact with her at all. The plan is to simply pick her up, return her to her bed, tuck her in, and leave the room without even making eye contact.

Well, that sounds great in theory, but Ava knows how to derail that plan. For example, this is how the other night went...

Round 1: First she needed help going to the bathroom. And she actually produces when she's there. It doesn't seem right to just tell her to pee in her pullup.

Round 2: Then she wanted some treasured item she needs to sleep that has been forgotten somewhere in the house. She has about 8 things she cuddles in her bed so inevitably something has been forgotten. She knows how to play it too. Her eyes are wide, her voice trembles, she asks so nicely. I feel like such a grinch not responding to her when all it takes to be responsive it to walk three feet into the next room, pick up the requested item, and hand it to her.

Round 3: Then she'll hear a scary noise. And this time there are some tears and an actual quiver in the voice.

Round 4: Her tag reader pen (which she carries everywhere listening to stories) runs out of batteries.

Round 5 Her tummy hurts. She acts pitiful when delivering this line. Somehow, "I don't care, go to sleep sweetheart" doesn't seem like the appropriate parental response.

and so on...

I am so hoping that this is a brief stage in her development.

The Weekly Michael

The issues with Michael are already becoming more complex. How am I supposed to respond to the following:

"What does stupid mean mama?" (Where did he even hear that word? I certainly don't use it. Must be school.)

"Boys don't like pretty things mama." (I was speechless. I stammered something about Daddy and Grandpa certainly liking pretty things.)

I'm sure this is just a tip of the "big kid issues" iceberg and I don't much like it.

Weekly Home Therapy Focus

We are still working on /s/, /sh/, /f/, /l/, and /k/. /k/ continues to be remarkably stubborn. In fact, it has been worse this week than it was a few weeks ago. /sh/ and /s/ are moderate. /f/ and /l/ are coming along nicely. We're doing those sounds in sets of three (light, light, light) and in pairs where I put out two cards and the same time and she'll say each word with an and in between (light and lamb). We also are practicing those sounds in short 2-3 syllable phrases.

Weekly Song

Sung to the tune of Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone.

Oh where, oh where did the pm nap go?
Oh where, oh where could it be?
I took care of it and I loved it so,
How could it abandon me?

(It isn't completely gone, but it is going. I'm wondering if Ava's night-time sleep issues might actually be because she doesn't need her nap any more.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Last IFSP Meeting

Our last IFSP meeting was held yesterday morning. To be honest, it was mostly a formality. It was due by January 29th and therefore we had to have a meeting even though Ava will age out of the program in five weeks.

I filled out a few forms about the progress Ava's made and the concerns I still have ahead of time. Our case manager emailed them to me so that we could have a head start at the meeting. We went over the forms and she took our new insurance information (some insurance will reimburse Missouri First Steps for part of their expenses). We agreed to leave Ava's services the same for the next 5 weeks.

I worried and worried and planned and planned before the first IFSP meeting to ultimately feel relieved that it seemed so easy. Then I repeated that experience before the second IFSP meeting. This one just felt a little token.

My focus is moving forward to the transition from early intervention services to school age services. We've qualified and our first IEP has been written. Now we just wait for Ava's birthday to switch. We'll appreciate the last few sessions of OT in our home and our last few sessions of speech with our wonderful early intervention therapists. Then we'll start all over again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Free Speech Therapy Articulation Cards: Game and Activity Ideas

Speech Therapy Card Activities and Games

Here are some suggestions for fun activities to do and games to play using the free speech therapy articulation card sets (or any other card sets you might be using with young children). They're great for speech therapy, but could also be used for flash cards while studying for a grade school test.
  1. Play a matching game. This requires two copies of a set.
  2. Play go fish card game. This requires two copies of a set.
  3. Play a fishing game. Put a paper clip or a couple of heavy duty staples in each card. Make a fishing pole with a magnet on the end of the line. Turn the cards upside down and have the child "fish" for the cards. Alternately, you could leave the cards face up and ask them to fish out the card you prompt them to find (see levels of prompting).
  4. Play bowling. Put cards in clothespins you can stand on end. Line up 3-5 clothespins in a row and have the child say the words pictured on the cards before attempting to "bowl" them down with a small ball.
  5. Build a train. Make a train engine and caboose and laminate for durability. Line the cards up in between to build a train. Put a small prize on the caboose like a sticker or cheerio. The child receives the prize when they finish saying all the words pictured on the train.
  6. Put cards in a mailbox. Cut a slit in the top of a box or other container to make a "mailbox". Let the children "mail" the cards after completing each card.
  7. Play top-bottom puzzles. Cut each card in a card set in half and have the children match the top of each picture to the bottom saying the words as they complete the mini puzzles.
  8. Play speech uno. This requires four copies of a set. Take foil stars in four colors (red, green, blue, gold) and put a star of each color on the four cards for each word. (You could also use smiley stickers in four colors, or simply color dots with crayons or markers.) Then play a card game uno-style matching either color or word. The child says the word each time a card is played.
  9. Play flashlight hunt. Tape the cards on the wall and turn off the lights. The adult or child shines a flashlight on each card in turn saying the word when the card is illuminated.
  10. Play stepping stones. This is recommended only if your cards have been laminated and you have a large space to work in. Place the cards on the floor making a trail. Space the cards so the child has to take a large step to move from one to the next. The child can only move to the next "stone" once they've said the word on their current card.

Note: Keep in mind, you're making a trade off. The more game-like the activity is, the fewer repetitions the child will produce. Particularly with a child who has motor-planning problems, you want to get in as many repetitions as possible in each session. Strike a balance between fun and productivity and try to keep things moving quickly with the focus on many productions no matter which activity you are using. One way to increase the number of productions during an activity is to require multiple repetitions instead of a single production if the child is capable of doing so accurately. So ask for chains of two, three, four, or even five if you can get them. (ex. "pay, pay, pay)

Does anyone have any other games or activities they play while using articulation cards? I'd love to add more ideas to this list. Please leave suggestions in the comments.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beautiful Distraction

I spent a disturbing amount of time yesterday browsing the Vladstudio website. The website has hundreds of beautiful wallpapers/background (725) and I'm pretty sure I looked at all of them. You can turn the pictures into jigsaw puzzles to play right there on the website. They also have an iphone app which provides 12 puzzles for free and all available puzzles, forever for $1.99.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Magic School Bus and the Earth

We visited my husband's parents in Oklahoma last week. They had a wonderful dry erase easel and the children were having a blast playing with it. The adults were sitting in the living room talking and when we looked up Michael had drawn a picture on the easel that looked just like the following photo except that his was done in carefully chosen colors.

He explained that this was a picture of the earth and showed us the crust, mantle, outer core and inner core and explained that it got hotter as you went further in. I was so proud of my four year old.

I knew exactly where he learned it. He's recently become obsessed with the Magic School Bus books. This is a series of books about a class of children and their teacher who has a magic school bus. The teacher takes the class for field trips in the magic school bus that cover a wide variety of non-fiction topics. His diagram of the earth came from the "Magic School Bus Inside the Volcano" book we had recently gotten from Scholastic Book Clubs. We've read it about 10 times since we got it.

The Magic School Bus books come in three varieties. The original picture books are aimed at ages 4-8ish and include some humor I find inappropriate for my younger children. There are also magic school bus chapter books aimed at older children. The version of the series we like are simpler picture books adapted for younger children by Scholastic. These feature the same set of eight children in each book so the kids get to know the characters. The humor is appropriate for younger children and school and classrooms are treated as fun places to be. You can find several of them on Amazon by searching for "Magic School Bus Scholastic Level 2."

I highly recommend these books. Michael (4) and Ava (almost 3) both really enjoy reading them over and over again and they're learning great facts at the same time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How to Make a Light Box Tutorial and Light Box Activities

Here is a detailed explanation of how we made our light boxes along with activity suggestions.

Making a Light Box – Tutorial


  • clear bin with lid
  • masking tape and paper
  • white spray paint (the kind designed to adhere to plastic)
  • battery powered florescent lights
  • semi-transparent paper (like pattern paper or tracing paper)


  1. Purchase clear bin with lid. We chose fairly small bins because we wanted each child to be able to play on their own pulling the box into their lap if desired. If you want children to be able to work on larger projects or work in groups, choose a larger bin.
  2. Purchase white spray paint designed to adhere to plastic. We used two cans and multiple coats for two small bins. Be prepared to use several cans. The thicker the coat of paint the less light you'll have leaking through the sides. You might even try a metallic silver or mirror style paint to get maximum reflectiveness, but I can't swear that'll work since we didn't do it that way.
  3. Purchase battery powered florescent lights. We bought something similar to these. We started with two 6" lights per box, but ended up exchanging them for two 12" lights per box for the extra light.
  4. Spray paint the inside of the box. Use at least 2-3 coats letting the paint dry according to directions between coats.
  5. Use masking tape and paper to protect the areas of the lid you want paint free and then paint the inside of the lid. Again use at least 2-3 coats of paint.
  6. Cut semi-transparent paper to the size of your lid and tape over clear area to diffuse the light coming through giving a light table effect and functionality to the box. We used pattern paper I had on hand that I had purchased from a fabric store. You could also use tracing paper or possibly even white construction paper.
  7. Place battery powered florescent lights in box.

Using a Light Box – First Activities

So far, we have just played with translucent items on top of the box. Once they get bored with that, I'll start to introduce different art and sensory activities using the light box. So far we've used glass gems, mosaic shape tiles, translucent letters, and some translucent duplos on the box. The gems we sorted by color. The shapes can be sorted by color and shape. You can also use the shapes to make pictures. Two triangles make a diamond. Two squares make a rectangle. You can make a house or flower or anything else you can imagine. The translucent letters can just be sorted by color or letter or used to spell simple words. We didn't have enough translucent duplos to do much with, but the children thought they looked really cool on the light box.

Using a Light Box – Additional Activities

Here are some additional activities for the light box:

Art on the Light Box - Fingerpainting and Prints
Science on the Light Box - Oil and Colored Water
Science on the Light Box - Baking Soda and Colored Vinegar
Sand on the Light Box - Pre-Writing
Sand on the Light Box - Storytelling
More Light Box Activities - Sand Art and Silly Spheres

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lovely Indulgence - Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

I'm not a coffee drinker. I enjoy something with a little mocha flavor, but straight coffee as a beverage is too strong for me. On the other hand I love hot tea. I enjoy the seemingly infinite varieties of types and flavors. I love the ritual of wrapping my hands around a warm teacup and taking my first sip. I find it instantly relaxing.

My husband also enjoys hot tea, yet since we became parents we rarely indulged. We make tea from loose tea leaves and with the little ones around there never seemed to be enough time. Then we discovered the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker. It is the tea equivalent to a fancy coffee maker. It is expensive, but due to the generosity of my husband's parents, we were able to get one for Christmas.

You fill the glass kettle with water and the stainless steel basket with loose tea. Then you push a button to tell the machine which type of tea you are making (black, green, oolong, herbal, white...). The machine automatically determines the best steeping temperature for the type of tea you are making. Then you push a button to tell the machine whether you like your tea mild, medium, or strong determining the length of time the tea will steep. You push the "Tea" button and walk away (or, if you're like me, you sit there and watch the magic). The water is brought to the correct temperature and the basket is lowered into the water for just the right amount of time. A quiet three beeps tells you when your tea is ready.

You can choose to have the tea kept warm at just the right drinking temperature for up to an hour (you can even customize this temperature if you like yours warmer or slightly cooler). You can also choose to have the basket oscillate up and down during the steeping to gently circulate the water through the tea leaves increasing the intensity of the flavor. There is also a timer and you can set the machine up to have hot tea ready for you first thing in the morning. All of the settings (temperature and time) can be customized).

I've been completely amazed at this machine. I love it and I always have a pot of hot tea handy now. The tea tastes wonderful. I've completely given up soda and I don't even miss it. I would definitely recommend this machine to anyone who enjoys drinking hot tea made from loose tea leaves.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Weekly Review: Week 44

Weekly Kitties

Umm. We had a weekly kitty health event requiring a vet trip and medicating all the kitties in the household. I promise you don't want more details than that. It was interesting to note that while 3 out of 4 kitties were unusually well behaved while taking their medicine (a pill) the fourth was extremely challenging.

Attempt 1: I popped the pill in Sophie's mouth and she spit it back out before I managed to clamp her mouth shut.

Attempt 2: I picked up the now sticky pill and popped it back in her mouth. I got her mouth clamped shut and got scratched several times while she tried to push my arms away. I was about to celebrate success when I looked down and saw the pill sitting by her side. She had managed to spit the thing out again.

Attempt 3: I wrapped her in my pajama bottoms, which were handy, to try to keep her from clawing me up any further and stuck the pill back in again. Her sister came over to groom her while she growled at me with her mouth clamped shut. I waited and waited and waited for the swallow. It wasn't until I unwrapped her and was about to let her go (preparing for a fourth attempt) that I finally saw her swallow. Success.

My husband totally gets to give her the follow up pill in two weeks. I'll do the other three, but he gets Sophie.

Ava this Week

Ava has discovered that her room is a place to play. On one hand, this is a wonderful development. When she awakens an hour earlier than everyone else in the household, she can now entertain herself rather happily in her room. On the other hand, it is messing with her nap/bedtime routine.

Before this new discovery, you could put her in bed, cover her just the right way with two blankets, hand her something to snuggle, sing a song, and never hear another peep. She was asleep in minutes. Now, as soon as I leave the room she's back up. She plays for 10-15 minutes and then opens her door and creeps down the stairs to share something that seems very important to her.

The first time, she had found a thread on the chair in her room. (Really, a thread?) The second time, she had bumped her ankle and felt I needed to know. The third time she was cold. I think you get the idea. Now if I want her to go to sleep at nap time I have to sit in her room to keep her in bed long enough for the sleep to catch her. At bedtime, we're putting her bed multiple times.

I'm hoping the problem will solve itself once the shiny newness of independent play in her room wears off.

The Weekly Michael

Interesting story about Michael. This past weekend, Ava spent a day and a half with her grandparents leaving Michael here with us for some one-on-one time. He was an angel. He was thoughtful and polite. He was fun to play with and also spent long periods of time playing independently. As soon as Ava came home he went back to the somewhat wild, slightly disobedient, attention-seeking behavior. I'm not sure what to think. He likes his sister. They get along and play together amazingly well. Why would he behave worse with us when his sister is home?

Ava's Weekly Home Therapy Focus

This has not been a productive at-home therapy week. First Ava spent a night with her grandparents and then came home late the next night. Then we were getting ready for an unexpected trip out of town and the preparation and travel kept us from doing our usual nightly speech sessions. It's ok. We'll get back to it next week and perhaps the break will have done some good.

Weekly Blog Possibility

It's been a while since I've done anything new with the blog design. I'm considering making a few changes. It'll be a while before anything happens. I'm going to do some thinking, some researching, some playing around, and some more thinking before I actually change anything. But it is fun to think about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Initial B Minimal Pairs: Free Speech Therapy Articulation Picture Cards


This articulation card set is designed to be an extension of my single-syllable cards sets. The words are all still CV or CVC in syllable shape and include no blends or vocalic /r/ sounds. This is a comprehensive set of minimal pairs focusing on contrasting the initial /b/ sound with each of the other early emerging sounds. The initial /b/ is contrasted three times with each of the other early emerging sounds (p, t, d, m, n, h) using a different vowel each time. The target audience for these cards are children with severe speech delays who need exposure to a minimal pair technique to emphasize that they need to differentiate production of two different words. (Scroll down to preview set.)

Key Features

  • This set includes 18 therapy cards pairs with the initial /b/ word on the left and the matching minimal pair on the right. The /b/ words are paired three times with /p, t, d, m, n, and h/ using a different vowel sound each time.
  • The words are CV or CVC in syllable shape.
  • The words feature early emerging consonants.
  • The words are simple and are easily understood by or easily taught to young children.


I give permission to copy, print, or distribute this card set provided that:
  1. Each copy makes clear that I am the document's author.
  2. No copies are altered without my express consent.
  3. No one makes a profit from these copies.
  4. Electronic copies contain a live link back to my original and print copies not for merely personal use contain the URL of my original.

Looking for Feedback

I would love to hear back from anyone who uses this card set. Let me know if you find errors or there is anything you would change. Comment on this page, or send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

Where can I find more?

More sets are on my Free Speech Therapy Articulation Cards page.

Card Sets

To download click on the image to open it full size. Then right click on the image, choose "save as" and save the page to your computer.

I recommend you print on cardstock and laminate for durability.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good Sportsmanship?

Let's start with the good part of this story. I bought an UNO deck at the grocery store the other day and we sat down as a family to play. I always enjoyed UNO, so unlike certain other children's games (Candyland), I was looking forward to playing.

We had never played a card game before. I introduced the terms dealer, dealt, hand, deck, and shuffle. They loved watching me shuffle the cards and had a blast helping me count as the cards were dealt until we all had seven cards. Since it was their first time we just all played with our hands face up and focused on learning the mechanics of the game. Everyone had fun. They easily caught on to matching either color or number and enjoyed learning about reverse, skip, and wildcards. Michael and his dad even joked and laughed when Michael was skipped about three times in a row.

However, things ended on a sour note when I won the game. They seem so young to be upset that they didn't win. However, even at the ages of two and four, I got crossed arms, pouting faces, turned backs, and the complaint, "But I wanted to win!" All of this was followed by a refusal to play a second time.

Obviously this is something we need to address. I think I'm going to start playing games with them often. I'll play at least once with them during the day, and we'll play as an entire family a few times a week. Before we even begin I'll say that we're going to play at least twice no matter who wins. I'll discuss (briefly and age appropriately) that we play together because it is fun and model nice things to say to the winner and nice things for a winner to say.

Does anyone have any other ideas about how to teach good sportsmanship to preschoolers?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Research Article: Toddlers Don't Modify Speech Production Based on the Auditory Feedback of Their Own Voice

Research of the Week

I read this research summary and thought the findings were interesting. I got my hands on the original journal article and thought the research methodology and conclusions were well thought out and seemed sound.

Essentially, research shows that adults and preschoolers listen to the sound of their own voice and modify their speech based upon what they hear. If you put headphones on an adult or 4 year old child and feed a slightly modified version of their own voice back to them, the speech they produce changes as they try to "fix" the productions they are hearing.

If you do the same thing to a two year old, they do not modify their productions. Toddlers do not appear to monitor the sound of their own voices and adjust their speech production according to the auditory feedback provided by their own voice.

This has rather significant implications for therapy with toddlers. If you're expecting them to hear the difference between their own correct and incorrect productions that probably won't happen without some sort of additional feedback.

This study was done with typically developing two and four year old children and showed that adjusting speech due to auditory feedback develops between the ages of two and four. I wonder if you took a group of speech delayed children and conducted the same experiment, would you find that it takes even longer for self-monitoring to develop in these children? And further, would you find a difference between articulation, phonological, and apraxic children?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pure Magic: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore - short film and interactive iPad storybook

Watching this short film, and to a lesser extent, experiencing the iPad animated book version was magical. It captivated me, spoke to me, and even made me cry a little. My husband, my two-year old, and my four-year old were captivated as well.

I hesitate to tell you too much about the story. On the website I read that the story was inspired by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books. The animation was done using miniatures, computer animation, and 2D animation creating a very unique and completely engaging look.

The storybook app has an interactive element on every page. Some are simple - a swipe of a finger creates wind, or colors the sky. Other pages have simple activities like drawing on a blank page in a book, spelling with letters in a bowl of cereal, or changing the seasons. A few pages have simple, yet beautifully done mini-games including playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" on a piano, putting together puzzles, or my favorite of dressing characters up as characters from famous novels (pirate, Frankenstein, the Queen of Hearts, Ebenezer Scrooge).

My children laughed with delight at the look on Morris' face when a book came thudding to the ground. They competed to touch the screen on so many pages finally falling into a rhythm of taking turns on each page until we were all ready to turn the page to hear the next part of the story. Now, we read-played-experienced the animated book version first and watched the animated short second. I would actually recommend doing things the other way around. Watch the short first. Enjoy the experience with no preconceived expectations. Next, thoroughly enjoy the animated book. Then, if your children are old enough, enjoy discussing the similarities and differences between the two media.

Every time I watch it I appreciate the story on another level or catch something I missed the first time. For anyone with a love of books, animation, New Orleans, or simply a wonderful magical story I cannot recommend this enough.

Here is a great trailer for the animated short (but don't watch it if I've already convinced you - watch the short with a blank slate):

This is a trailer for the iPad app:

I also very much enjoyed the "making of" videos on their website and watched every one.

You can purchase the animated film from iTunes separately for $2.99, or you can purchase the iPad app for $4.99 which includes the film and an animated, interactive book version of the story.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


We have some friends that moved away a while back. They're back in town visiting friends and family and they came by a couple of nights ago. Their daughter is halfway between Michael and Ava in age. They also have a seven month old son. The visit was lovely and notable on several points.

  1. Our children stayed up later than they have in their lives (not counting the insanity that is infant sleep). They did remarkably well and both woke up bright and cheery at their usual 6:30 am as if they hadn't gone to sleep 2 1/2 hours later than usual.
  2. My husband and I had a wonderful time socializing with our friends and fellow parents. We do not have such evenings often enough.
  3. Their daughter was an amazing playmate. Our children already play well with each other. Their daughter's age and temperament blended perfectly with those of our children. All three children played together beautifully for about five straight hours. It was a joy to witness. I particularly loved watching Ava play and communicate so well with another little girl close to her age. I wish this family didn't live so far away.
  4. It was fun to spend time with a baby. I enjoyed it. Ava enjoyed it too. He was babbling. It was adorable and bittersweet at the same time. I've mentioned before that babbling babies almost always inspire envy in my heart - not my best trait. Perhaps, that is getting better. It didn't feel quite as sharp this time.

I wish I had an adorable picture to share, but I was so busy visiting, that I didn't take any. I sign of a great visit I suppose.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Health and Fitness Plan 1.0

I was always a nose-in-a-book kid rather than a get-outside-and-play kid. In fact, when my parents would kick me out of the house to get some sunshine I'd bring a book out with me. Some people are active by nature. They love to be moving and get antsy when stuck in one spot for too long. I can disappear into a quiet activity for hours at a time and never once feel the need to get up and stretch.

As a kid, this tendency to be sedentary wasn't too much of an issue. My weight stayed mostly under control exercise free. Several times during my twenties I would half-heartedly begin an exercise program only to abandon it a few weeks later. Even then, the weight was not a major issue. Two children later, with my age creeping towards a whole new decade, I am getting a little frustrated with my weight. I have the 10-15 pounds I didn't lose after the two pregnancies in a row, and a slow steady creep upwards since then.

My husband, completely on his own, was also coming to the conclusion that he wanted to begin to exercise as well. Now that the children are a little older, we are all sleeping better, and there's a little more "free time" in our schedule, I was willing to commit a tiny bit of that time to exercise. Not too much, mind you, just a little.

We decided on 15 minutes a day. Start to finish it is 20. In order to actually accomplish that regularly, we wanted to chose a consistent time of day. We had tried the wake up before the kids and exercise plan before only to fail miserably at sticking with it. This time we decided to do the 15 minutes right after we put the children to bed. That's something we do at approximately the same time 7 days a week. If we exercise immediately after the children are in bed, we can still have 60-90 minutes for other activities before our bedtime.

We alternate days. The first day I'll do aerobic while he does strength training and the next day we switch. That's between 45-60 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and 3-4 sessions of muscle strengthening activity a week. This page on the CDC website says that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and 2 sessions of muscle strengthening activity is the minimum recommended weekly amount for an adult. Well, I figure our current regimen is a heck of a lot better than the nothing we were doing before, so this isn't a bad start.

If I decide to increase my elliptical days to 20-25 minutes I'd be closer to that recommendation (60-100 minutes per week). I'd have to do 45 minute elliptical sessions to meet the 150/week average and I'm just not willing to commit that much time yet. I'm pretty sure I couldn't sustain it. I think it is more important to establish a shorter routine I can sustain than a longer one I give up in two weeks.

We have an elliptical machine we bought shortly after we got married that was supposed to be the foundation of our fitness. Well, it worked well for a few months. Then it gathered dust for years during my pregnancies and the first few parenting years. Now we're dusting it off again. I found a great app for my iPhone by lolo that takes my music and uses it to make an interval style plan for my elliptical machine. The program lets you choose the difficulty level you want, and the length of the workout and it does the rest. So, I tell it 15 minutes and then it plays my music and tells me the resistance level to change the machine to every minute or so. It controls your pace by choosing music that has certain beats per minute and can even modify the beats per minute slightly to get you to speed up or slow down slightly.

lolo also has upper and lower body weight training programs, but I didn't like them as much. I found the music distracting and didn't like matching my exercise repetitions to their arbitrary pace. Instead I designed my own weight training routines. I pulled out some dusty books I had bought years ago. Strength Training Anatomy and Women's Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier. I really like these books and think they are extremely well done. I like the way it shows you through anatomical style drawings the exact muscle groups targeted by each exercise.

I designed three routines - an upper body, lower body, and abs/back/core routine. That way, I'll hit everything at least once over the course of the week. I used the books to identify the major muscle groups in each area and identified one exercise per muscle group. Each routine can be done in approximately 15 minutes, so it meets my requirements. All I need to do these workouts are a few different sets of dumbbells which I already owned.

My Upper Body Routine


  • Hammer Curls - biceps
  • Reverse Curls - outer forearm
  • Wrist Curls - inner forearm
  • Lateral Raises - deltoid
  • One-Arm Triceps Extensions - triceps


  • Dumbbell Presses - chest
  • Dumbbell Flys - chest

My Abs/Back/Core Routine


  • Crunches with Feet on Floor - upper abs
  • Leg Extension Circles - lower abs
  • Dumbbell Side Bends - oblique abs


  • Plank - Core-Abs
  • Torso Swimming - Core-Back


  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows - latissimus dorsi, rhomboid
  • Dumbbell Shrugs- trapezius

My Lower Body Routine


  • Squats - quads
  • Floor Hip Abductions - outer thigh
  • Adductors on the Floor - inner thigh
  • Hamstrings on the Floor - hamstrings
  • Standing Calf Raises - calves


  • Floor Hip Extensions - glutes

Then I took a flashcard program I had bought to convert some of my artic decks into iPhone form for Ava and used it to make flashcard sets for the three programs. I took a picture of each exercise from the book and attached an audio file where I counted down either 60-90 seconds/exercise (Begin, halfway done, 15 more seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.) Now I just flip through the flashcards, hit play, and work my way through each one ending at about the 15 minute mark. Lots of setup, but now everything is efficient.

And that's the plan at the moment. We're only about a week in, but we are actually both enjoying the brief workouts and find it gives us fresh energy to enjoy the time before bed. It also makes us feel a little more flexible, less creaky, and a little healthier and stronger during the day.

A decent beginning. Someone ask me if we're still keeping up with it in a month. I sincerely hope so/intend to.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Weekly Review: Week 43

Weekly Main Event

Ava's IEP meeting was held Thursday morning. It went well. She'll be receiving 90 minutes of speech therapy a week beginning on her birthday and 15 minutes of consultative services/month beginning in the fall when she moves from daycare to preschool. It's nice to actually be anticipating the benefits of the transition from early intervention services to services provided by the schools. The program she'll be entering seems to be extremely well designed and well suited to her needs. I am excited and thankful that she'll have the opportunity to participate.

Ava this Week

Completely spontaneously, with very little encouragement or input from us, Ava has begun to night train. She's been potty trained during the day since well before she turned two. She just picked that up when we were training Michael. Over the last week she has begun to wake up in the middle of the night disoriented and somewhat panicked wanting assistance in going to the potty. She takes great pride in trying to keep her nap and nighttime pullups dry.

I am proud of her, of course. Is it terrible to admit that the return to inconsistent and unexpected night time wake-ups is very unpleasant? I wonder how long this will last? When will she learn to just take herself? Or, even better, just be able to hold it until morning?

Even with the inconvenience and disrupted sleep it is still a huge milestone and I'm simultaneously proud of her and amazed at how big she's getting.

The Weekly Michael

Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."?

Let's just say that the combination of my stress level this week and subsequent impatience and Michael becoming a little older and more independent and stretching his wings has been a bit...unfortunate.

I'm desperately trying to be more positive and use more redirection. And I'll just leave it at that.

Ava's Weekly Home Therapy Focus

We're continuing to work on initial and final /k, s, sh, and f/. We're also working on initial /l/.

We chose /k/ months ago because Ava was fronting everything and didn't really have any back sounds at all. We finally have an approximation of /k/, but some nights it comes out flawlessly on every repetition of every word and other nights she substitutes /t/ every time and nothing I try changes that. Ahh, lovely motor planning problem.

We added /s, sh, and f/ recently because Ava wasn't really using any fricatives and she was stimulable for all three. She's doing remarkably well with all of them. /f/ is particularly easy for her and I'm already seeing occasional spontaneous generalization in conversation. /s/ is pretty good and with a gestural cue I can get a good production every time. /sh/ is a bit more difficult, which makes sense given that she has more difficulty with sounds that are produced further back in the mouth. However, with more intensive cueing, she's pretty successful there as well.

We added /l/ because it is a phoneme she uses daily. It is in the name of someone in her life. She really struggled with it for the first few weeks, but this week it has really clicked for her. She seems to enjoy it and is spontaneously using it correctly in conversational speech. It's a thrill for me every time. I love hearing the beautiful /l/ and enjoy watching her pride in making it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grace Under Pressure - Not So Much

PSA: Pitiful whiny post ahead. Feel free to not read this one. :-) You have been warned.

This is a rough time of year. I love the holiday season, but it is intense. There are two major holidays in a row and big breaks in the daycare/preschool routine. (Therefore, less breaks for Mama.) We also have our annual trip 12 hours away taking our little ones away from home for 5 days.

This is also the exact same time frame that Ava's special education eligibility evaluation was held. I've also been informed that our IFSP is going to need to be updated even though it will only be in effect for approximately five weeks before she ages out. Our first IEP meeting is scheduled for later today.

Paperwork needs to be filled out to prepare for the IFSP meeting. Paperwork needs to be filled out for the IEP meeting. I scheduled a visit to the special education preschool classroom. I need to set up pediatrician visits. I haven't had enough sleep in weeks. I've been ill at least twice during this time frame. The children have each been ill 2-3 times and my husband and mother have been ill as well.

I'm limping along trying desperately to keep things together and still be a pleasant, cheerful, effective, and efficient mother/wife/therapist/friend/acquaintance, but the cracks are beginning to show. I'm less than patient with the children, Michael in particular, and I'm feeling pretty guilty about that. I had a "thing" with my husband - which never happens. Seriously, we're in sync 98% of the time. It was strange and disorienting to be upset with him. Fortunately we had that patched up in less than 36 hours.

I'm having trouble focusing on tasks that need to be done. My /s/ sets for Ava have been sitting 25% done for almost a week. If I could focus and finish them up I could be using them with her and sharing them with you. But when I do find the time to sit at the computer, my mind rebels and I end up randomly web browsing remembering little when the snippet of free time comes to an end.

The IEP meeting will be done in a few hours. The mostly token IFSP meeting will be done next week. Hopefully, things will settle a little after that and I'll have a chance to regroup. Well, until her birthday. Then everything shifts again. I suppose that's just how life works. This parenting a child with special needs is an endless exercise in flexibility. Someday I'll be an expert in that, right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

First IEP Scheduled

Our first IEP meeting will be tomorrow morning. My original guesses about placement options were incorrect. As it turns out, we are going to be served by a different school district than I expected. Essentially, since Ava is not old enough to be enrolled in the optional preschool program in our home district, they assigned her to the school district her daycare is in.

The district she's being served by is larger than our home district and so is able to offer a special program for speech-only preschool children. Essentially they have intensive 45 minute speech sessions offered from 2-4 times a week. There are no more than 9 children in a class and there are two certified SLPs and one speech assistant. The children are separated into three groups (high, medium, and low) and the program is run according to a Hodson's Cycles Phonological Approach. One target is chosen per week and worked on intensively. Each session begins with auditory bombardment and data is taken daily. Another placement option would be for an SLP to see her individually at daycare. That would probably be once a week for an hour, but I could try for twice a week for 30 minutes each. In this district, word of mouth says that they feel a special education preschool classroom is too restrictive for a speech only student, although that wouldn't be determined without a full team at the IEP meeting.

I like the sound of the intensive speech sessions. I'm not sure what their criteria are for recommending two vs. four sessions a week, but I'm going to argue that Ava could certainly benefit from four sessions a week. I think I would prefer to have her participate in that program to less time spent individually. I feel like she would benefit from a well-organized cycles approach in addition to the intensive, individual motor-planning style therapy she's getting from me. Logistically it is going to be challenging. I'll be responsible for transportation which means I'll have a two hour round trip to fit into our schedule 2-4 days a week. Even the thought of that makes me cringe, but you do what you need to do. I can't turn down this kind of opportunity even if the logistics are difficult.

So, that's the story at the moment. We'll see what actually happens at the meeting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Final F: Free Speech Therapy Articulation Picture Cards


These articulation picture card sets are designed to be more comprehensive than the typical sets you might find elsewhere. The target audience for these sets are young children or children with more severe speech delays that need intensive practice with sounds at a one-syllable level. No blends or vocalic /r/ sounds are included in these sets. (Scroll down to preview set.)

Key Features

  • This set includes 20 therapy cards with the target word and picture on the front, and the difficulty level and a carrier phrase on the back.
  • The words are all VC or CVC in syllable shape.
  • The words are simple and are easily understood by or easily taught to young children.
  • Combines the target sound with all possible vowel sounds at least once.
  • Words are sorted by difficulty level for an easy progression from easy to hard.


I give permission to copy, print, or distribute this card set provided that:
  1. Each copy makes clear that I am the document's author.
  2. No copies are altered without my express consent.
  3. No one makes a profit from these copies.
  4. Electronic copies contain a live link back to my original and print copies not for merely personal use contain the URL of my original.

Looking for Feedback

I would love to hear back from anyone who uses this card set. Let me know if you find errors or there is anything you would change. Comment on this page, or send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

Where can I find more?

More sets are on my Free Speech Therapy Articulation Cards page.

Card Sets

To download click on the image to open it full size. Then right click on the image, choose "save as" and save the page to your computer.

I recommend you print on cardstock and laminate for durability.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Initial F: Free Speech Therapy Articulation Picture Cards


These articulation picture card sets are designed to be more comprehensive than the typical sets you might find elsewhere. The target audience for these sets are young children or children with more severe speech delays that need intensive practice with sounds at a one-syllable level. No blends or vocalic /r/ sounds are included in these sets. (Scroll down to preview set.)

Key Features

  • This set includes 30 therapy cards with the target word and picture on the front, and the difficulty level and a carrier phrase on the back.
  • The words are all CV or CVC in syllable shape.
  • The words are simple and are easily understood by or easily taught to young children.
  • Combines the target sound with all possible vowel sounds at least once.
  • Words are sorted by difficulty level for an easy progression from easy to hard.


I give permission to copy, print, or distribute this card set provided that:
  1. Each copy makes clear that I am the document's author.
  2. No copies are altered without my express consent.
  3. No one makes a profit from these copies.
  4. Electronic copies contain a live link back to my original and print copies not for merely personal use contain the URL of my original.

Looking for Feedback

I would love to hear back from anyone who uses this card set. Let me know if you find errors or there is anything you would change. Comment on this page, or send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

Where can I find more?

More sets are on my Free Speech Therapy Articulation Cards page.

Card Sets

To download click on the image to open it full size. Then right click on the image, choose "save as" and save the page to your computer.

I recommend you print on cardstock and laminate for durability.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Very Nice Basic FAQ Page on Childhood Apraxia of Speech

I really liked this basic information page on CAS. It gives a decent overview of the disorder and a description of how an SLP works with a child with CAS. I particularly like the section at the end that gives suggestions for how a parent can help / work with their child at home. There are some excellent suggestions there.

Check it out.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Proper Appreciation of Daycare

I don't think I fully appreciated my daycare until Michael moved "up" to preschool.

1. Our daycare (Ava still attends daycare) does not have random days off.
2. Our daycare's hours are convenient to us. We are signed up for half days. That means I could drop her off as early as 6:30 in the morning and pick her up as late as 1:00 in the afternoon.
3. Our daycare tuition includes a hot breakfast and lunch.
4. Our daycare is flexible. If we have a doctor's appointment, or if Ava is sick on a "school" day they let us switch her day to another day of the week.
5. Now this one is going to sound terrible, but I'm just going to put it out there. Our daycare doesn't have many expectations. They aren't sending home activities, asking for supplies, wanting us to participate in school fundraisers, or expecting attendance at school functions.

The week before winter break, our daycare was open Monday through Friday. The school was open only through Wednesday. This past week our daycare was open all week again. The school didn't open until Wednesday. I actually decided to keep both children home Tuesday and let them play together rather than have Michael home alone and drag him out to drop Ava off and pick Ava up from school.

It isn't that I don't appreciate pre-school. Michael loves it. His teachers are amazing. The facilities are beautiful. The learning activities and structure are a much better transition to formal schooling than his daycare was. I just chafe a little at the way that the schedule of school dictates our lives compared to the way a daycare works around the schedule of families.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Weekly Review: Week 42

Blog Post of the Week

There's conversation points - "Oh, I got my haircut today."
There's news - "Our son brought home his first ever report card today."
There's big news - "We're getting married."
Then there's really, really big news - "By the way dear, I'm carrying triplets."
Check out this blog post. Surrogacy, in my opinion, is a beautiful, generous gift. My congratulations and best wishes go out to Jen, her family, and the family she is helping.

Weekly IEP Preparation

1. Think about what I want to advocate for.
2. Do appropriate preparation by setting up appointment to do a classroom visit in our school's special education preschool room.
3. Have all previous preparation rendered insignificant by call to set up IEP meeting in an entirely different district than expected (don't ask - it is complicated).
4. Review new potential placement options. Discuss pros and cons of new placement options with family members and friends. Reassess what I want to advocate for.
5. Set up IEP meeting for next week.

Ava and Michael this Week

Ava loves to mimic her brother right now. Here are a few examples.

Michael: I like orange.
Ava: And I like orange.

Michael: I like candy.
Ava: And I like candy.

Michael: My favorite animal is a kitty.
Ava: And my favorite animal is a kitty.

A few days ago I told Michael that the TV show I had just started was going to be the last one. These were the comments that followed:

Michael: I'm not happy with you! (accompanied by a stomp of the foot)
Ava: And I'm not happy... Oh, I am happy!

Ava's Weekly Home Therapy Focus

This week we've been continuing to work on initial and final /k/ at the single word level. Ava has learned her cards well enough that I can simply provide a carrier phrase and she fills in the blank. For example, I say, "When you go to school you put on your _______." and she fills in "pack." She's at about 80% accuracy on a good night.

We're also working with initial and final /s, sh, and f/. I've already put up our initial and final /sh/ card sets and I'm working on /s/ and /f/ card sets now. Every few days I pull out a card set like the /p/ simple sentence/phrase set and focus on final consonants in short phrases and sentences as well.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Year One

One year ago Ava was evaluated by early intervention. She was 22 months old. Her language scored at the level of a six month old baby. She had two consonant sounds and perhaps three or four vowel sounds. She had only about 2-4 word approximations she used regularly. She had mostly stopped trying to talk.

My emotions were a dark and tangled mess. I couldn't stop thinking about Ava's speech and the outside confirmation that something was wrong. I was fighting tears all the time. That night I sat down and wrote the first real post of this blog. Even today, one year later, my stomach still twists re-reading that post.

I just needed to write it all out. It was a tool to help me cope. I was too upset to talk to my loved ones. I couldn't talk without breaking down. So I wrote it down instead. No one was reading the blog then. No one at all.

Since then, others have joined in. Other parents. Other professionals. Other people who are interested in my family and the things I share. I appreciate all the voices that contribute. I appreciate all of you who read regularly and those who just stop by.

So much happens in the first year. There's the initial flurry of activity. First there is the evaluation. Then you have follow up testing and finding the right services. In our case we combined private therapy with the services provided by early intervention. We made our way through the first IFSP.

I feared the worst. I feared severe motor planning problems and little progress. I made communication boards and they went up at our house and at my parents house. We made a list of ASL signs that would be useful in our daily life. My husband and I learned them and then taught them to my parents. We all used those signs consistently with her for the first couple of months.

Ava was almost instantly happier. She loved the communication boards and was obviously empowered by them. She picked up signing almost instantly. Oh the power of the sign for "more". She also liked "please" and "up". And then she started vocalizing "uh" when using the sign for up and progress just flowed from there.

Services began. Sounds unlocked and words came. For us, progress came quickly at first and I was so grateful. The inevitable plateau came as well, and that was all right. At least she could communicate now. Not clearly, but we had so much more to work with. I had gone from wondering if she would ever be able to talk to worrying about clearing up the sounds in her speech. Those are two entirely different kinds of problems and I was grateful to move from one arena to the other.

At the six month IFSP meeting we identified additional needs in the area of occupational therapy and began OT services as well. Another miracle. Progress was swift again and perhaps kick started speech progress because we started seeing progress in her speech again as well.

As this first year came to a close we also participated in a transition meeting, because early intervention only lasts through the age of three. Ava was evaluated by the schools for eligibility to continue to receive services. She qualified.

I wish I could travel back in time one year and whisper in my ear. "It'll be ok." We are ok. There's still work to be done, but the journey is happening one little bit at a time and is manageable. We still live life and enjoy it every day. Working on Ava's speech is just one part of a complex whole.

One year later we have words, sentences, and conversation. More importantly, we have laughter, love, and family.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pre-IEP Preparation - Thinking Through Options

Technically, an IEP meeting needs to be held within 30 days of the evaluation. That means it should be take place before the 15th of this month. On top of that, I should have at least a 10 day notice about the meeting date. I should hear from someone this week regarding setting up the meeting.

Before I meet with anyone I need to figure out exactly what I want. I can't advocate for something if I don't have the specifics worked out clearly in my mind.

I'm also in an odd position of having been on both sides of this table. I worked as a certified SLP in the schools. I know how busy they are. I know that this first meeting will be the very beginning of a long relationship with people I hope to respect. I want these people to be active partners in my daughter's education. Ideally I want our relationship to be friendly and productive rather than adversarial.

And so, I want to push for enough services, but I don't want to be unreasonable. Many children with CAS need one-on-one therapy with their school therapist. However, I know that I am working with Ava one-on-one five nights a week and we pay for private therapy with a local expert twice a month. Also, as compared to many other children with CAS, Ava's motor planning problem is relatively mild. I don't think I am going to push for individual therapy time.

The other service options will probably include pull-out group therapy for a specified number of minutes a week, services provided in the schools special needs preschool classroom by that room's classroom teacher, push-in services by the SLP in that preschool classroom, or some combination of some or all of those services.

The biggest decision I need to make is whether I want her to go to the special-needs preschool classroom. If she does not, I'd still send her to that school in the fall. I would simply send her to the same preschool room Michael is in now. Her SLP would be able to pull her out of that room to provide small-group therapy, but she'd receive no extra services in the room. The advantage to this is that she'd be in the least restrictive environment surrounded by typically developing peers.

Alternately, in the special needs classroom, there would be fewer children and more adults. The adults are trained to facilitate communication, social interaction, and sensory integration. Ava would be enabled to participate fully rather than allowed to float around the edges. The teachers would have the time and training to listen to her and work to understand her conversation rather than simply say, "uh-huh" and move on when she's difficult to understand. At least, these are my hopes for the special-needs classroom.

I think I'm going to try to contact the school and that teacher and see if I can take Ava into the room for an hour or so to play before the IEP meeting so I can get a sense of the dynamics of the room, the other children attending, and how Ava fits in. I'll feel better about knowing what I want after that. Once I know what I want, I'll be able to plan more concretely for the IEP meeting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Excellent CAS Resource Page

I haven't had a chance to fully explore the links on this page yet due to a particularly nasty stomach flu bug I brought back with me from New Orleans.

However, at a glance, this page looks wonderful and given its depth, is likely to have something you haven't seen before.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech Resource Page by Pediastaff

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creationary Fun

Michael's godfather got him a Lego game called Creationary for a Christmas gift. Essentially the player pulls a card with a picture on it and tries to build that thing out of the included legos. The other players guess until they identify the object and if successful the builder and the player who guesses correctly both get a point.

Michael was super excited about the gift. Oddly enough, he hasn't played it yet though. The visit was busy, and we haven't pulled it out since we got home. However, all the adults played it. A group of 4-8 20-50 year olds played this game and had a great time for several hours two evenings in a row.

I highly recommend this game. It's an imaginative game that engages multiple generations together having a great time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Car Ride Activities Set 2

In order to prepare for a long car ride with two young children I made as many simple activities as I could think of to pull out in the car. If any of you need to go on a trip with young children you might try these. They would be great activities at home too, but these are pretty portable and so I save them for the car trip.

Car Ride Activities Set 2

Button Snakes

I cut two 10 inch long pieces of ribbon. I sewed a button on one end of each ribbon and a 2 inch by 2 inch square of felt onto the other end of the ribbon. Then I cut a lot of additional 2 x 2 inch felt squares in a variety of colors and snipped a buttonhole into the center of each square. The idea is for the children to thread the squares onto the "snake" and back off. Patterning is optional.

Usborne 100 Things for Little Children to do on a Trip

I bought the Usborne 100 Things for Little Children to do on a Trip card set. I sorted out the easiest cards that I thought my little ones could do (2 and 4 years old) and put the rest away for the next trip. About 1/3 of the cards made the cut. I provided them with dry erase markers and an eraser made from felt and let them draw on the cards and attempt to do the activities.

Geoboards with Shape Cards

My children have never used geoboards before, so I picked up a couple of inexpensive geoboards on Amazon. I used Microsoft publisher to make up some simple shape cards to pass out to the children along with their rubber bands to give them ideas for things they can do with the boards.


Happy New Year everyone!

If you like these activities, you may be interested in more.
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