I can’t believe I haven’t posted since June! What an amazing Summer we’ve had here in the UK. Autumn brings a rash of family birthdays leading up to Christmas, starting with Mia. Mia’s birthdays have always been a bit of a pleasure/pain thing for me. Even her 1st, when it was starting to become clear that, maybe, something wasn’t right. Then, each one was yet another year passing with no speech – piling more worry onto the already deep-seated, all-pervading worry that was a permanent backdrop to everyday life. Inviting friends with children to make it feel like she had friends to celebrate with, when we all knew she had no way of forming a relationship with any of them really.
After each one, sad as it sounds, I would go through a period of despair. Will she ever speak, have friends, have a normal life? I still don’t know the answer to all of these, but this year, for the first time ever I am confident she will speak. Everyone who came to her party this weekend commented on the obvious improvement – spending time with Mia in her own environment at home gives a chance to see what is happening. Words are clearer and communication is more elaborate. Don’t get me wrong, there is a long way to go before the answer to the last two questions – will she have friends, will she have a ‘normal’ life? – will be ‘yes’. But this year there is no despair. I am not going through my annual grief. The anxiety is still there, the feeling that I am never doing enough, and if I was doing enough how much faster she would move forward but I think everyone has these feelings. Mums, speech and language therapists, teachers, teaching assistants. The answer would be our own, personal speech and language therapist working with her all day everyday! That might be enough, but sadly not realistic. Although that is exactly what I would do if I won the lottery!
We had been working on ‘p’, ‘b’ and ‘m’ as initial, medial and final sounds. These are bilabial sounds – being made with the lips together. They are clearer, but everything seems to need constant practice and work to tweak and maintain! Use it well or lose it here! We have added ‘t’, ‘d’ and ‘n’ which are alveolar sounds – at the front of the mouth. Then when these became secure we went onto ‘g’, ‘k’ and ‘h’ which are velar sounds – at the back of the mouth. She has all of these – apart from the odd mix up with ‘t’ and ‘c’ – pretty solid during practice. The main issue remaining is the breathing and voicing but, importantly, she is learning to self-correct! I think this is something that comes with practice, a bit of maturity and, now developing, self-awareness. Now I do a daily mish-mash of alveolar-bilabial/ velar-alveolar/ alveolar-velar etc etc to try and get some flexibility. Mia has to think and focus hard but copes really well with this! The words obviously repeat lots of vowels too so these are also becoming more accurate. I have been using these apps a lot
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/speech-therapy-for-apraxia/id586636734?mt=8 which does whole CVC words,
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/speech-therapy-for-apraxia/id512647583?mt=8 which is CV and useful for reminding Mia to not always put a consonant after a vowel. It’s all coming along nicely!
I am doing reading out loud with her where we read the words together, which seems to help a lot too. Doing it with me leaves less room for mistakes, but she is practicing getting her mouth around whole sentences, which is not what she would be doing under her own steam. She will say lots of words or approximations now, sometimes a few simple sentences. Sometimes strangers can understand a word here and there!
The speech therapists have got us started on a specially tailored language and learning programme. This is building in speech and language work around topics that we are covering, which are those Mia is interested in to help keep her motivated and focused. As her speech and communication develops her language impairment becomes clearer, and we need to work intensively as Mia will allow to address this.
That’s it for now, folks, all good news! Thanks to our supporters for helping us to maintain this amazing approach for Mia! What a difference a year makes this time : )