Monday, October 31, 2011


For the first time since the children were born my husband has to go on a business trip. I have two nights and three days of solo parenting to look forward to.

Two years ago I would have faced this situation with panic. One year ago I would have experienced extreme anxiety. Even six months ago I would have been nervous. Under all of those circumstances I would have lined up help in the form of grandparents.

Now I'm anxiety-free. The kids are so much easier at 2 1/2 and almost 4 than they were at younger ages. Barring any oven fires (knock on wood), we'll be fine. Sleeping by myself in an empty bed will be stranger than the solo parenting. It feels good to be comfortable going solo.


Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adulthood Independent of Parenthood

Last night my husband and I attended the wedding of a good friend. It was a storybook wedding. The sun set during the outdoor ceremony on a perfect crisp fall day. The bride pulled up in a horse and carriage. Everyone was beautiful and everything went perfectly. I felt honored to be invited to help celebrate such an important event in her life.

I put on a dress I hadn't worn since before Michael was born. My husband wore a suit and tie. My parents generously offered to keep both children overnight. We went out. We watched a beautiful ceremony, had a nice dinner, and talked with adults all evening. We felt very connected as a couple.

It has been a long time since I spent an evening out with my husband in a social setting that had absolutely nothing to do with parenting. I love my children. I love being their parent. It is a privilege. However, it was really nice to reconnect a little with what it felt like to just be us as an adult couple separate from the now ever-present parenting responsibilities. We'll have to try to go there more often.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I am basically a people pleaser by nature. It just clicked with me in childhood like a baby duckling imprints on its mother. We follow rules. That's a fundamental truth. We try to make the people around us happy. Another fundamental truth. Being an inconvenience or annoyance to others is to be avoided at all costs.

As an adult I realize that this simply isn't possible at all times. I know that. I know it isn't healthy or possible to feel a compulsive need to keep everyone around me happy all the time. You'd think raising two under two would have beaten that out of me, but dealing with children is somehow exempt from all of the above.

Then it turned out that Ava needs extra help. In order to get her the help she needs I have to be her advocate, translator, chauffeur, personal assistant, and liaison in addition to raising her to be an intelligent, caring, responsible adult who knows, without question, that she is loved. In order to be this advocate for her I have to do things I find uncomfortable.

Specifically, I am asking her preschool office staff and teachers to make some accommodations for her. She has been receiving speech at school. Her teacher has been wonderful about it. She even helped us get permission from some of the other parents in the room to participate so that her therapist can facilitate her communication in a small group. Overall, the school has been wonderful too, even providing a room for them to work in.

Ava's third birthday is on the horizon and the school district is preparing to evaluate her in December. They've called the school to set up an appointment to do an official classroom observation as part of that evaluation.

Last week her occupational therapist expressed a desire to observe her in the classroom during play and during her lunch at school. She and I tentatively set that up for next Tuesday. I mentioned that to the preschool director as I was heading to pick Ava up from her classroom and I got a distinctly chilly vibe. She said it was fine, of course, but the subtext was clear [enough is enough].

It was just a little thing. It was, perhaps, 30 seconds of my day. She didn't even say anything, it was just a negative, inconvenienced vibe. And yet I'm still thinking about it. It's because I want to please. I don't want to be that parent who is a nuisance.

I need to get over it. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. This journey with Ava will consist of many more moments when I have to push, or inconvenience someone. It's just the nature of this particular beast.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 32

Blog Post with an Outstanding Description

This week Amalah wrote about a situation at her son's school where several parents of children with special needs felt they needed to advocate for their children. This post contains an outstanding description of the variety of personalities and responses that make up that population of parents and how they all ended up in the same place anyway.

Weekly Blog Post that Made Me Want to Cook: featured a crockpot vegetable lasagna recipe a while ago. I liked the idea so much I decided to try it. It was so easy and turned out really well. And, all four members of the family liked it. That's a major success around here.

Weekly Entertaining OT Activity:

This week our OT arrived with three things. She brought powdered sugar, peanut butter, and honey. We didn't measure anything, so I can't give you an exact recipe. We put several tablespoons of peanut butter in a large bowl (for each child) and let them taste the peanut butter with their fingers for a while. Yummy and good sensory experience rolled into one. Then we put some honey (a tablespoon or two?) in another spot on the bottom of the bowl and tasted that with our fingers too. We talked about how the peanut butter and the honey tasted and felt different from each other. Finally we sprinkled powdered sugar (lots) on top of both and let the children taste that too. Then we encouraged them to pat the sugar down into the honey and peanut butter using their hands. Patting turned into pushing. Pushing turned into stirring with a finger. Stirring with one finger turned into mixing enthusiastically with both hands (tasting frequently all the while). Eventually, with much stirring and adding lots of powdered sugar the mixture reached a play-doh like consistency. We made peanut butter play-doh. Lots of fun, yummy, and a great sensory experience. The end.

The Weekly Michael

Michael's continued theme is exploring destruction. Please tell me this is a phase. This week he deliberately pulled up his floor vent and stuffed random objects inside (multiple times). He popped Ava's balloon - with his teeth. He pulled a well attached canvas wall print off his wall and then pulled the 3M wall hangers off both the wall and the picture as well. He attempted to cut a hole in the side of a bottle of glue with his scissors (right in front of me). I have actually told him that he needs to stop and think about whether his actions will destroy or harm something before doing it and decide to stop if the answer is yes. The next time he destroyed something he just informed me that he had forgotten to think.

Ava this Week:

Baby Kitty has been replaced. At the store the other day Ava passed by a bin of $4 baby dolls. She found a pink one with a kitty embroidered on its bib and a pacifier in its mouth. She cradled that doll in her arms for at least half an hour before we left and asked so nicely if she could take it home. I couldn't resist. Certainly not for four dollars. Mama Kitty and Baby Kitty are still in bed with her, but Bitty Baby (as we call her because she's small) takes the place of honor tucked in Ava's arm as she falls asleep.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Salt Art

These turned out beautifully.

  1. First you take watercolor paper and let the children drizzle glue all over the paper.

  2. Then you have them sprinkle salt over the glue until the glue is completely covered with salt.
  3. Count to 20 or sing the ABC song to let the glue set a bit and then shake off excess salt.
  4. We let ours dry for a couple of days but I've read that you can just go ahead and move to the next step immediately if you like.
  5. Put liquid watercolors in an ice cube tray. We have red, yellow, and blue. We used those to also make orange, green, and purple. (You could also use water colored with food coloring.) Put one eyedropper in each spot.
  6. Let the children drop the watercolors onto the salt trails using the eyedroppers. The salt trails will wick away the paint. They loved this and it really encourages fine motor control because it works best if they only dispense one drop at a time.
  7. Admire end result and place somewhere to dry.
  8. [Optional]When children want to continue using eyedroppers and watercolors provide additional paper and show them how they can use the eyedroppers as tools to make lines from the drops of paint.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Speech Therapy Progress - So Slow

I realized that I haven't done a speech therapy progress update in almost 5 months. I can't believe that much time has passed. I've been doing fewer progress updates because there is less progress to report.

Last time I wrote a progress update I said that we were working on final consonants and that she was using /p/ and /t/ spontaneously about 30% of the time and we had pretty much no other final consonants. Now Ava is using final /p/ and /t/ spontaneously at least 60% of the time in phrases and sentences. She's also using or approximating most of the other early emerging consonants spontaneously at least 30-50% of the time. She can imitate final /s/ and /sh/ as well, but is not using those spontaneously.

We still don't have /k/ reliably. I'd say I've seen relatively little movement on this phoneme in 5 months time. Even in direct imitation with multiple cues she will substitute /t/ for /k/ at least 3/5 times. I am frustrated with the complete lack of progress on learning a velar sound.

Right now I feel like I understand Ava at least 90% of the time in context and at least 50% of the time if I have no context. I think she is significantly less intelligible to strangers. She is speaking regularly in 3-7 word sentences, but most of those are word approximations.

She has /p, b, t, d, m, n, h, f, j, w, s, sh, ng, and vocalic /r/ in her phonemic inventory.

I feel like her language growth has been phenomenal over the past few months. Sentence length and complexity, expressive vocabulary, and morpheme use has all improved significantly (as you would expect for a child of her age).

Speech progress has slowed and is becoming difficult to track. We have shifted out of the stage where we see rapid progress from beginning therapy. Now I am beginning to see that the remaining errors are significantly more stubborn and progress will be measured in small increments rather than leaps. It is disappointing, but not unexpected.

I know slow progress is much more typical of apraxia and motor planning problems than fast or even steady progress. It's just that when things moved so quickly at first I got my hopes up. I was hoping that she would be the exception rather than the rule. Why is there always another reality check just around the corner?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apraxia Therapy Materials: Turn & Talk Early Sounds

Therapy Materials Review: Turn & Talk Early Sounds - Fun Practice with P, B, M, T, D, and N in Initial, Medial, and Final Positions of Words

This is a review of Turn & Talk Early Sounds. This easel book is published by Super Duper Publications. The book contains 600 illustrated words addressing the early emerging phonemes (p, b, m, t, d, n) in initial, medial, and final positions of one and two syllable words.

Target Audience

The publishers state that the target audience for the Turn & Talk Early Sounds book will be children from PreK-3rd grade. The pictures on the cards are appealing to children. I could see using selected sections with younger children who need practice on early emerging sounds as well.

Description of Turn & Talk Early Sounds

This product is a 11 inch by 4.5 inch spiral bound book with hard covers. The book has a built in easel so you can stand it upright. Inside you'll find an introductory section describing the contents of the book and giving tips for eliciting correct production of the target sounds. This section also includes a blank card you can use to write in the sounds in isolation or in VC or CV syllables with a dry erase marker if you want to work on the sounds at that level.

Phonemic Breakdown

The book has a tabbed section for each of the six phonemes: P, B, M, T, D, N.

Each section includes 100 words divided as follows:
  • 20 Initial One-Syllable
  • 20 Initial Two-Syllable
  • 20 Medial Two-Syllable
  • 20 Final One-Syllable
  • 20 Final Two-Syllable

How to Use the Turn & Talk Early Sounds book

This book is going to be most appropriate for intense drill on these phonemes. Choose the section that addresses your goals and objectives for a child and use that section to drill. The pictures are fairly engaging, but you will probably need some motivational tool such as a turn at a game, sticker, or token.

Pros and Cons of the Turn & Talk Early Sounds book

  • Pros:
    • The Turn & Talk Early Sounds book is compact and easy to carry around.
    • AT 100 words per phoneme, the Turn & Talk Early Sounds book includes a pretty good number of stimuli per phoneme.
    • The five picture spread format allows you to do many repetitions easily. This is a great format for approaching therapy with apraxic children from a motor planning standpoint.
    • The book is sturdy and has a built in easel.
    • The illustrations are well done and appealing to children at a wide variety of ages.
  • Cons:
    • Although there are 100 words per phoneme, there are only 20 one syllable initial and 20 one syllable final pictures for each phoneme. Most of those 20 one syllable words are fairly complex including later emerging phonemes, vocalic /r/ sounds, and even blends. Therefore, if you are working with a child with a severe speech delay you may find this book to include stimuli that is mostly too difficult. My free articulation picture cards target these same phonemes at a simpler motor planning level, so if you need simpler look there.
    • This book will work best for children needing a simple articulation approach to speech remediation. Most children with simple articulation errors are making errors with later emerging phonemes. This book may not address the phonemes you need most.

Bottom Line:

The Turn & Talk Early Sounds book is a good purchase if you need stimuli that address these early emerging phonemes. Just think carefully about whether the stimuli included here are actually going to be too difficult given that often children who need drill on early emerging phonemes are severely delayed and may have difficulty producing many of these stimuli because of the other phonemes included in the target words.

You might also be interested in the following products:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making and Painting a Textured Surface

This started out as a great OT activity. Take toilet paper and let the children rip it into little bits and fill a bowl with it. They absolutely loved that part.

Then you add glue. Lots of glue. I didn't measure, but I used at least 8 oz for the three bowls. Ask the children to mix the glue with the toilet paper (with their hands) until it turns to sticky mush. Listen to screaming and crying protests and end up doing much of the mixing yourself. (Or at least, that's how it went at our house.)

[I forgot to take a picture of what the glue/toilet paper mush looked like. Sorry!]

Then persuade the children to take the mush from the bowl and put it on paper to dry creating textured paper before they run off to wash their hands. If you have children with no sensory issues, this has so much potential. I made a snowman. You could make a mountain and lake. You could make anything really. It's pretty cool.

Let it dry for a couple of days until you remember to get back to the project.

Let the children paint the newly textured paper. They loved this part. I filled an ice cube tray with six different colors of liquid tempera paints and gave them brushes and let them paint. We experimented with dabbing it on the textured areas and different types of brush strokes on the plain paper. They had a blast. We spent about 45 minutes painting the textured paper and then moving on to several other pieces of plain paper before they were done.

Here's how the painted textured ones turned out.

A couple of notes should you decide to try this activity yourself. You need lots of glue. And lots of toilet paper. We used about half a roll of toilet paper and ended up with relatively little final product.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homemade Light Boxes

One of the things that is often incorporated into the activities featured on Play At Home Mom is a light table. I decided to make homemade light boxes for the kids (with my husband's help). They aren't quite finished, but they are functional.

First we bought two fairly small clear bins. We wanted them to each be able to play on their own and we liked the idea that they could even pull them into their laps if they wanted. We bought white spray paint (the kind designed to adhere to plastic) and spray painted the inside of the bin and some of the lid. We also bought battery powered florescent lights to put inside. I used some pattern paper I had gotten a while back from a fabric store and we use that to diffuse the light. Hopefully the pictures will make all of this clear.

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 they thought they looked really cool on the light box.

You might also be interested in the following posts:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cricut Envy

Michael and Ava got a wonderful surprise in the mail today. Ava's godfather (my cousin) sent Halloween cards to the children. They were homemade by his wonderful girlfriend who does amazing things with her Cricut cutting machine. (Thank you both!)

I have a Cricut. I use mine for very boring things like cutting out circles and squares for art projects. She uses hers and makes the most beautiful cards. See - here's the proof. Two super cool Halloween cards. My kids are so lucky.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Weekly Review: Week 31

Website of the Week:

I love, love, love Play at Home Mom. I find the creative ideas inspiring. Since finding the blog a week or so ago I've done at least 5 activities from the site with the kids including making our own light boxes (post to come when they are complete), making textured paper to paint, and playing with glow sticks in the bathtub in a darkened room.

Weekly Victory over Procrastination

For weeks now (I kid you not, at least 5 weeks) I have been saying to my husband, "We need to start planning Michael's birthday party." This week I realized there was less than a month left and I finally set something up and sent out invitations. I'm excited. It should be fun. It is so hard to believe that nearly four years have passed since he became part of our lives and we became parents. Crazy stuff.

Weekly Summation

This week has been a week of contrasts for me. On one hand, I have been inspired to be more creative with the children building one or two extra activities into their days rather than simply running on autopilot. The activities are fun, help time move more quickly, and keep everyone active, engaged, and happy. Definitely a success and worth the energy I put into them.

On the other hand, I've been inexplicably grumpy at the same time. And everything else has gone down the drain. I haven't done any more busy book pages, I haven't returned an overdue library book, I haven't done this week's meal plan/shopping (a bit late now), and the house is an absolute mess. I think I'll blame the change of seasons, colder weather, earlier dusk, and week-long rainfall.

This Week's Pleasant Surprise

Michael caught a cold this week. For once, the early croupy cough and slight wheeze did not land us at the doctor's office or in the emergency room. The cold appears to be on the mild end of the spectrum. Now, if only saying that "out loud" so to speak doesn't jinx us...

The Weekly Ava

Ava is growing up before my eyes. I know, I know. They all do. That hardly makes her unique. But still... She's leaving the toddler behind and turning into a young preschooler at blinding speed. And she mimics her brother. It is simultaneously cute and annoying depending on which behavior she is choosing to imitate. Good manners - cute. The fake laugh - a little cute and annoying. Head butting mommy from behind and thinking it's funny - definitely not so cute.

Michael this Week

Michael has been a bit manic all week. He's been sick. Just a little, but sick nonetheless. Usually when he's sick he is calmer than usual, eats less than usual, and sleeps more. This week his appetite has been mostly typical, he's skipped every other nap, and when he is up he's running circles around the house - literally. This child prefers building with legos to going outside. This week he can't stay still. He sits for a few minutes then jumps up and runs off the extra energy. It's strange. I'm not sure what to make of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Easy Word Family Practice Cards (or articulation practice cards)

I saw this simple idea for making word family practice cards and instantly wanted to make some for Michael. All you need is some sample paint cards (one per word family) and some cardstock.

Take the paint cards and write a letter that makes a word when combined with that family on each paint color. Cut a small piece of cardstock and write the word family on the cardstock. Cut a small square out of the cardstock so that the letters on the paint cards will show through when you place the word family card on top of them. I also wrote the word family on the back of each paint card so Michael can match the paint card to the corresponding word family card.

I made all four of these in 20 minutes or so. When I was finished I called Michael over and he read 27 words all by himself. It was fun. He liked this better than the word family eggs I made a while back because the cards are easier to use.

I started simple because Michael is just starting out, but you could easily use more complicated families (-ill, -ake, -oy, etc.) and include blends on the paint cards to increase the difficulty of the activity.

Teachers could use this as a phonics center activity. SLPs could use this to work on final consonants because you could choose a family with a final consonant you are targeting. You could also target an initial sound by putting different word endings on the paint card and making the initial sound you are targeting on the cardstock. You get the bonus of working on reading and articulation at the same time. These won't work for speech practice with Ava because she's too young for reading, but for elementary students it would be great.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We had the kittens spayed yesterday. It's a pretty non-controversial procedure. It was, in fact, a condition of their adoption. We signed a contract that said that we would have them spayed. I understand that it is the responsible thing to do considering the number of unwanted kittens out there. I know that it can help prevent future health problems.

And yet, picking them up, I felt guilty. They were disoriented and groggy. There were minor complications with Grace's surgery and I need to monitor her closely over the next several days. I want what is best for them and I want to be a responsible pet owner.

I suppose I just need for them to both heal quickly and well. Then I will feel better.

One particular post-operative instruction was good for a laugh at least. Our vet would like for me to keep them calm and from moving around too much - for a couple of weeks. Hmm. These are kittens. Two of them. Sisters. When they're playing it sounds like thunder. I love that about them. How, precisely, am I supposed to keep them still for two weeks?

At the moment I have them confined to a bathroom. At least there they are limited by the square feet of the room. I'll do that for 24-48 hours and then we'll see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apraxia Therapy Materials: Word Flips

Therapy Materials Review: Word Flips - Flips for Learning Intelligible Production of Speech

This is a review of Word Flips. This flip book is published by Super Duper Publications. The flip book contains three identical 40-word card sets divided into sections by consonant placement (bilabial, alveolar, velar, and palatal). All 40 words are CV words.

Target Audience

The target audience for the Word Flips will usually be children with severely delayed expressive language typically between the ages of 2-5. The pictures on the cards are appealing to children. This book is ideal for children working on early emerging sounds in CV syllable structure.

Description of Word Flips

This product is a 11 inch by 4.5 inch spiral bound book with hard covers. The book has a built in easel so you can stand it upright. Inside you'll find three identical sets of picture cards divided by tabs into sections according to place of articulation (bilabial, alveolar, velar, and palatal). 40 words are included and they are all CV syllable structure.

Phonemic Breakdown

  • Bilabial: /b/-4, /p/-3, /m/-4, /w/-4
  • Alveolar: /t/-4, /d/-3, /n/-4, /s/-3, /z/-2
  • Velar: /k/-2, /g/-2
  • Palatal: /sh/-4, /ch/-1

How to Use the Word Flips book

  • Simple repetitions. Choose target sounds that are appropriate for the child and practice them in repetitions of three. Work on sounds that share articulatory placement, or if increased difficulty is appropriate, alternate between different areas of placement.
  • Alternating sets of three.
    • Same consonant, different vowel. Ex. "boo, bee, bee; boo, boo, bee; bee, bee, boo; boo, bee, boo; boo, bee, bye; etc..."
    • Same vowel, different consonant (same placement). Ex. "bye, bye, pie; bye, pie, bye; pie, bye, bye; bye, pie, bye; etc..."
    • Same vowel, different consonant (different placement). Ex. "pay, pay, day; pay, day, pay; day, day, pay, etc..."
  • Random variation. Ex. "pay, key, show"
  • Combine CV words to make CVCV words. Ex. "sew + pea = soapy" The book includes a list of CVCV words you can make this way from the CV words in the book.

  • Combine CV words into short phrases. Ex. "Go zoo." The book also includes a list of phrase suggestions.

Pros and Cons of the Word Flips book

  • Pros:
    • The Word Flips book is compact and easy to carry around.
    • The Word Flips book includes a fair amount of variety using real words at a very simple, CV level. You get 13 phonemes. All phonemes except /ch/ are paired with multiple vowels. This makes it a great book for working with apraxic children.
    • The flip book format allows you to do many repetitions of the same CV syllable or many repetitions of alternating syllables. Again, this is a great format for approaching therapy with apraxic children from a motor planning standpoint.
    • The book is sturdy and has a built in easel.
    • The illustrations are well done and appealing to children at a wide variety of ages.
  • Cons:
  • I really only see one con here. Overall, I like this resource a lot for children with a severe delay. The Word Flips book does not go into any one phoneme at great depth. So, for example, if you have a child who can only produce one or two phonemes, this book may not provide enough stimuli for an entire session of work. You might look into my free articulation cards which include 30 CV or CVC words for each phoneme if you need additional depth for a specific early emerging phoneme.

Bottom Line:

This book is great for children with a severe expressive delay who need work at the CV syllable level. The only caveat is that you don't get a lot of depth with any one phoneme.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

It's All In a Self-Assigned Name

It won't come as a huge surprise that the variety of vegetables that Ava will eat is small. She'll eat canned peas, but not frozen. She'll eat raw carrots with ranch, but not cooked carrots. She'll eat sweet potato fries, but not mashed sweet potatoes. And regular fries of course. And that's about it. No corn, no green beans, no tomatoes, no broccoli or cauliflower.

I finally resorted to subterfuge. I went back to making baby food essentially. (I still love my Baby Cook.) I steam and purée vegetables like butternut squash and carrot in batches. I freeze the purée in ice cube trays. Then I defrost and mix the cubes into her food whenever it wouldn't be noticed. I can get two cubes into her morning yogurt, for instance.

A couple of days ago I was making a batch of sweet potato. I had steamed and puréed it and was in the process of spooning it into ice cube trays when Ava came by to check out the action. She observed in silence for a few moments and then demanded, "I want some icing!"

I thought for a moment about correcting her assumption that the puréed sweet potato was icing, but that just seemed a waste of a golden opportunity. Instead I said, "Well, you can have one taste." Then I let her try a taste from the tip of my finger.

She made a face and I thought that would be the end of it, but a moment later she piped up with, "Mama, can I have a bowl of icing?". You can bet that I scooped sweet potato right back out of the ice cube trays and put it in a bowl for her. She then proceeded to eat three small bowls (about 4 ice cubes) worth of sweet potato. I guess sometimes it really is all in the name.

(It probably helped that she was starving because she didn't like anything I served for dinner that night.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Busy Book - Chalkboard 2-Page Spread

Busy Book / Quiet Book Chalkboard

This 2-page spread is my favorite so far. On the right is a chalkboard. On the left is two pockets. One contains an eraser I made out of three layers of felt and the other contains a piece of chalk. There are also drawing ideas on the left. There are nine different simple shapes and drawings made of combinations of simple shapes for the children to copy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Busy Book - Apple Tree Page

Busy Book / Quiet Book Apple Tree Page

One of my goals in making this busy book is to include a wide variety of fine motor activities. One way to do that is to use a wide variety of fasteners.

This new page uses hooks and eyes. The apples attach to the tree with hooks and eyes and the children can also choose to put a couple of apples in the basket. It is simple in concept, but provides variety in execution. You could also do this exact same concept using snaps, velcro, magnets, or even buttons.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Scholastic Teacher Express eBook Sale

Scholastic Teacher Express is having another eBook sale through 10-21-2011. They have 250 of their teacher resource books discounted to $1-$4. You can also use the discount code Birthday50 for half off many of those titles bringing some of them down to as little as 50 cents.

The Weekly Review: Week 30

Blog Post that Made Me Laugh

I can't help it. I laugh at these kinds of situations while simultaneously being profoundly thankful that it wasn't me. Amalah had a solo parenting evening that could have been taken right out of a comedy.

Blog Post that Made Me Cringe in Sympathy for all Parties Involved

Problem Girl does a wonderful job of helping her little girl celebrate her sixth birthday, but nothing is ever simple.

Weekly Ticking Time Clock

In nine weeks Ava will be evaluated to see if she qualifies for services from the schools. In 20 weeks she will no longer be eligible for early intervention because she will turn three.

I feel like this timeline is the huge "but..." in our life right now. "Ava has great therapists, but..." "Ava is making beautiful progress but..."

I need to remind myself, yet again, to focus on today's blessings rather than on tomorrow's potential problems.

Weekly Pleasant Surprise

Jourdan at futureslps did a post about my free articulation picture cards. That post was seen by someone at Pediastaff which posted about the cards on their blog. Consequently my site traffic tripled for a day or so and, hopefully, the card sets have found their way into the hands of many more therapists who will find them to be useful. Many thanks to Jourdan and Pediastaff for thinking enough of the card sets to mention them to their readers.

Ava This Week

Well, I don't know what Ava herself would be most excited about this week, but I am most excited about finally being able to fix her hair some. She's letting me put in ponytails and pigtails and will even sit still enough for me to get a bit more creative. She's still too sensitive to stand much brushing or tugging, so it's a bit messy, but such progress. I really do credit OT.

The Weekly Michael

Michael has become a preschooler. He's just not a toddler by any stretch of the imagination any more. He's becoming just as interested in his peers as his parents, possibly more. He wants his sister to play with him and wants to direct every bit of that play. Fortunately Ava is pretty agreeable. "Come on Ava, let's go play sleepover." "Come on Ava, let's go to my room." "Come on Ava, let's go on a ghost hunt." And off they go. He never stops talking, but she doesn't seem to mind. It's lovely.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More Flip Books On Sale

For those of you who thought the Phrase Flips book looked interesting, there are three more Flip books on sale at Super Duper this week. (No, I am not affiliated with Super Duper, I just like some of their products and I monitor their weekly 50% off sales.)

This announcement is just for your information. I haven't actually seen these books yet although I did order them. I'll do reviews of them when they come in.

The three on sale (50% off through Sunday, October 16, 2011) are:

  • Say and Do Sound Production: This one focuses on production of vowels and consonants at the sound, syllable, and word level and comes bundled with an activity book with worksheets and therapy activities and a CD-ROM of reproducibles.
  • Turn and Talk Early Sounds: This one focuses on initial, medial, and final /p, b, m, t, d,n/. Contains 600 illustrated words.
  • Word Flips: This one contains three sets of identical picture cards for single syllable words. Sounds are sorted into sections by placement (bilabial, alveolar, velar, and palatal).

Speech Sample - Suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech - 26 months

This is an audio clip from a video we took on 5-14-2011. Ava was 26 months old. At this point Ava was about four months into receiving speech services. Ava was asking me to get something down from a shelf.

In the last audio sample, three weeks prior to this one, Ava produced 10 utterances in a little under half a minute. Those utterances included seven different words and ranged from 1 word (two syllable) utterances to 4 word (five syllable utterances). In this sample, Ava produces 13 utterances in a little under half a minute. These utterances include 12 different words and range from on word (one syllable) utterances to 5 word (5 syllable utterances). The average number of words per utterance in the last sample was 2.2. In this sample it increased to 2.42. More importantly, there was significantly more diversity to the utterances in this sample.

Here is the new sample:

In this audio sample Ava's utterances were:
What that?
What that?
This there.
Uh huh.
No I think get down.
No get down.
I think down.
Not think up.
No think down.
I say down.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apraxia Therapy Materials: Phrase Flips

Therapy Materials Review: Phrase Flips - Flips for Learning Intelligible Production of Speech

This is a review of Phrase Flips. This flip book is published by Super Duper Publications. The flip book is designed to let you easily address target sounds at an easy level (single syllable) level, moderate level (2-3 syllables), and advanced level (4-5 syllables).

Target Audience

The target audience for the Phrase Flips will usually be children ages 3 and up although I can imagine using the easy level with even younger children. The pictures on the cards are appealing to children. This book would work well for children using a traditional articulation approach to therapy. In skilled hands, this book would also be useful for variety working with clients needing intense practice using a motor speech approach to articulation however the book isn't really designed with that approach in mind.

Description of Phrase Flips

This product is a 11 inch by 4.5 inch spiral bound book with hard covers. The book has a built in easel so you can stand it upright. Inside you'll find three sets of picture cards divided by tabs into sections according to place of articulation (bilabial, labiodental, alveolar, palatal, and velar). The set of cards on the left are easy (single syllable). The middle set are moderate (2-3 syllables). The set on the right are advanced (4-5 syllables).

Phonemic Breakdown
The main focus is on initial and, at the multi-syllable level, functional medial productions of these sounds. In general, the easy level introduces 4 single-syllable words for each phoneme. The moderate level introduces a second word or syllable targeting that phoneme and the advanced level introduces a third. That gives you a total of 12 words per phoneme most in initial position.
  • Bilabial (/p, b, m, w)
  • Labiodental (/f/)
  • Alveolar (/p, d, s, n, l)
  • Palatal (/sh, ch, J, r)
  • Velar (/k, g)

How to Use the Phrase Flip book

In a traditional articulation framework this book would be a great set of stimulus materials to practice phonemes in initial and medial position at increasing difficulty levels. The book would also be useful for generalization and practice for children with motor speech articulation problems (such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech) for specific phonemes that have already been taught and established at the single word or syllable level, but need additional drill at multi-syllable levels.

Pros and Cons of the Phrase Flips book

  • The Phrase Flips book is compact and easy to carry around.
  • The Phrase Flips book covers a lot of territory. It has 16 phonemes in initial and medial position at three increasing difficulty levels. It will not help you get into great depth on any given phoneme, but if you need to carry something with you that covers a lot of territory, this might fit the bill.
  • The book is sturdy and has a built in easel.
  • The illustrations are well done and appealing to children at a wide variety of ages.

  • The Phrase Flips book does not focus on phonemes in final position.
  • The Phrase Flips book does not go into any one phoneme at great depth.
  • The flip format is something of a gimmick in this particular book. I cannot see a huge therapeutic reason to address one phoneme at the easy level, a different phoneme at the moderate level, and a third phoneme at an advanced level simultaneously. The only advantage is that you can take a level completely out of play by turning the entire set over so that a blank card shows at that level.

Bottom Line:

Nice resource for a SLP who typically needs to address articulation targets at multiple levels of difficulty just be aware that the book focuses mostly on initial and medial productions and doesn't provide a great deal of depth on any one phoneme.

You might also be interested in the following products:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Now who's contrary?

I have been known, on occasion, to use the word "contrary" in reference to my daughter. I love her. In general I think having a strong will and knowing her own mind are traits that will serve her well in life. It can occasionally (often) make parenting challenging at this stage, but overall, I like her personality.

This week in particular I am reminded that she comes by those traits honestly.

For example:
  • I complain they won't play independently... but feel guilty when they play together beautifully while I spend an hour straight cleaning and "ignoring" them.
  • I complain that Ava's too much a "mama" girl... and then feel jealous when she wants Daddy to be the one to fix her hair.
  • I complain that I never get to sleep in any more...then, when I have the opportunity to sleep in, I get up at 7:30 am anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Speech Sample - Suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech - 25 months (2)

This sample was recorded three weeks after the last one I posted (4-26-11). She's picked up two additional consonant approximations. She's approximating /g/ and /s/ in this sample. What is interesting is that both of those sounds disappeared later. We are working on /s/ now, but I have to remind her to make it. She isn't really making the /g/ sound at all any more.

More important than individual sounds is that she's moved to using multi-word utterances. In this sample she produces 10 utterances. 2 of those are one word (both two-syllable). 5 of those are three words (4 syllables per utterance). One utterance was four words long (5 syllables)! This is a huge increase in average sentence length in three weeks.

get down mama
get down mama
get down
get down
get down
uh huh
no mama get down
mama scissors
dada scissors

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Busy Book - Underwater Bead Maze Page

I'm very pleased with this one. First I made a background underwater scene. Then I made three interactive tracks.

The first track is for the plane. The plane moves from right to left getting higher in the sky at it goes. When it hits the cloud it has a little trouble and someone (either Michael or Ava) needs to help the pilot get through the cloud (by threading the bead through the loop).

The second track is for the boat. The boat begins by moving from left to right along the top of the water. Each time it hits a wave it needs help. After it hits the third wave it sinks down to the ocean floor.

The third track is for a fish. He starts at the bottom in his home by the coral before going on a treasure hunt. He works his way up to the top of the underwater mountain where he finds a treasure chest.

Here are the beads in their beginning positions:

And here they are in their final positions:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sunny Articulation Test App - One Day Sale

I have been keeping an eye on an articulation test for the iPhone/iPad called the Sunny Articulation Test. I wasn't willing to buy it at the usual price of $49.99, but today (10/9/2011) it is on sale for $21.99.

It is a qualitative test, not a normative test, so it will not tell you how your child/student/client compares to other children his/her age. However, it will test all phonemes in multiple positions of words. It allows you to easily record productions of each test item so that you can go back later and listen again. It has a screening mode and a full test mode. The screening mode has fewer words and you simply indicate right or wrong for each target phoneme. The full test mode has more words and you enter the type of error for each incorrect phoneme. The test automatically calculates errors and does some simple analyses (how many voiced sounds were incorrect, how many voiceless sounds were incorrect, how many plosives, etc.). You can also automatically generate and email a simple report.

I will do a more complete review once I have had an opportunity to actually use the program, but I wanted to let you know about the sale in case you've been looking for an articulation test for the iPhone/iPad.

Busy Book - Phonics Pockets Page

I have finished a third page for the busy book. This page has six beads on strings. There is a boat, cat, fish, lion, plane, and zebra. There are six pockets. Each pocket is labeled with the first letter of one of the beads. Michael will be able to match each bead with the corresponding pocket. Ava will probably just hide the beads at random and use the page as more of a peek-a-boo page than as a phonics page.

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