Sometimes we take for granted of how lucky we are in so many ways. It is so easy to rush through each day and not take a moment to appreciate the simplest things in life...like speech.
Those of you who know us, or have followed my blog for awhile will know that we have had a rough road figuring out why Aayla still does not speak. She will be 3 1/2 next month and has less vocabulary them most 8 month olds. It has been a long road of testing for things like cystic fibrosis and luckily ruling them out...but still since she turned 6 months I have been trying to fight to figure our what is wrong. At first I was told to "relax"..."just because Sierra hit her milestones early"..."wait and in time she will speak"... I am still waiting and she is still not speaking!
In September we finally got off of the wait list for speech therapy and Aayla goes weekly to our appointments at the Centre for Child development. Up until then we were trying signing with her and she picked up "more" and "please" but that was about it since she has muscle issues as well. She did a close representation of the signs but not exactly perfect. Signing was hard for her. She has had a few sounds for awhile now like "ma" for mom, "mo" for more which we can understand and differentiate but not easily for others to do. She has tried to say Sierra but it comes out as something sounding like "air-a". Her best word has been "YEAH!!!" and she says it with such enthusiasm, partly because her grammy Sue encoraged her with actions to try get the speech associated with an action and it worked!
Since being taken on by the Centre for Child Development Aayla has improved a lot. She is much more vocal with her coo's and babbles. It's so amazing to see her trying to make sounds, not words, but sounds and it is such a BIG step for her and it is such HARD WORK for her. She has also learned to say a two syllable word... "MOM-MY" and I must say it melts my heart to hear it :)
Just before Christmas we introduced a communication book of pictures she flips through to show us with pictures what she wants. She points to "I", then "Apple Juice" to use her "words". We are working hard on getting her to add the "WANT" picture inbetween and slowly but surely she is doing it.
It's a long slow road of persistence...of repetition...of trial and error as to what works and what doesn't...but why?
Finally we are getting down to that answer...not an official diagnosis yet but it is looking like this diagnosis will come.
"Apraxia is a disorder caused by damage to specific areas of the cerebrum, characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements, despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements. It is a disorder of motor planning which may be acquired or developmental, but may not be caused by incoordination, sensory loss, or failure to comprehend simple commands (which can be tested by asking the person to recognize the correct movement from a series). Apraxia should not be confused with ataxia, a lack of coordination of movements, aphasia, an inability to produce and/or comprehend language; abulia, the lack of desire to carry out an action; or allochiria, in which patients perceive stimuli to one side of the body as occurring on the other."
A great site to learn more about Apraxia is found HERE.
Basically Aayla can understand what she is being asked to do, but somwhere along the trail of hearing the command, she looses the ability to do it. Aayla can blow bubbles on her own, but if you ask her to blow bubbles she can not do it.
In order to help Aayla we play many games...simple games like using an alligator prop and asking her what do we say to the alligator to get him to open his mouth..."AH" and after a few week sessions she now can say "AH" on command. The simplest of sounds...yet such a challenge for her...
We play a game at speech therapy called wishy washy with a handmade washing machine and Aayla really likes it so tonight I sat down with Sierra and we made one for her.
To make one I took apart a 1 Litre creamo container and eye balled up the measurements to make it into a box with a little flap on the top back and a lid that would open.
and put it back together inside out so the white was on the outside.
It then had to be taped back together. I just used clear packaging tape. My eye balled measurements were a bit off so I had to tape the back part where the buttons will go a little bit apart so the lid would still close (the picture will explain that better then my words!...hopefully)
Next Sierra drew on some buttons and the front view window :) How do you like her hairdo? She proudly did it all herself! After drawing on the buttons we hot glued the machine to a piece of cardboard from a recycled pizza box lid.
Next for the clothes. Since we don't have any small barbie doll type clothes in the house so we made our clothes out of old paint chips. Just draw some clothes on the back of the chips, cut them out and add a few details to the front and voila! (please don't look too closely at my drawings...they are barely recognizable but the girls don't care)
The object is to get Aayla to say "o" and "ou". The idea is to fill the washer with dirty clothes, then shake them around by moving the cardboard bottom and sing...
"wishy washy wishy washy wash wash wash"
Then open the wash up and take the clothes out one by one and say "Is it clean?" "OUUUUU, NO it smells" and really accentuate the "ou" and the "no". She loves it! Still hasn't had any luck with the sounds...but with persistence...she will :)
(Speaking of persistence have a look at THIS blog (PootandBoogie) of a friend of mine, she recently posted a blog on persistence her new BFF)
Wouldn't a fun extension to the washing machine be to make one of THESE (Click here) found at Filth Wizardry. You could use coloured clothespins and make it a matching game as well. Aayla LOVES matching games of any kind so I might have to give it a try tomorrow when I can find those little clothespins I have buried in the craft room somewhere...
Before signing out...I just want to urge you to stop and take time to sit and reflect on the simple things in life...of all the things we have to be thankful for, be them big or small...no matter what our hardships in life...be strong and carry on...as we are lucky in life and fortunate to have all the simple things...like speech for instance :)