God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. For as long as I can remember, I have loved the beautiful, wise words of this prayer. And now that apraxia is a part of my everyday life, I have been forced to really believe, feel, and have faith in these words like never before.
Jake said “mama” for the first time just shortly after his third birthday. I had to listen to him say “daddy” perfectly for a whole year. I had to say “mama,” slowly and brilliantly pronounced, and watch him stare silently back at me. I had to watch everyone else in my family coax him into muttering those two simple syllables. Needless to say, it took a while, but now he says mama so many times in a day I lose count.
When I look at how much progress Jake has made since his third birthday, it really astounds me. Six months ago, he couldn’t say any /m/ words. Although spontaneous conversation is a slow progression for him, he is flying through the Kaufman /m/ words now. He is working at mastering the following in speech therapy: me, man, milk, mom, mess, mouth, and moo. He is still having trouble saying the consonant on the end, but he is doing great with the simpler form of the word. (i.e.- Saying “mou” instead of “mouth.”)
Last week, we got the Speech-EZ Apraxia Program app and so far, Jake is enjoying it. This app gives the option to sort the flash cards by “place of articulation.” The first choice in the drop-down menu is “bilabial (p, b, m).” The Wikipedia definition for bilabial is a “consonant articulated with both lips.” After I looked it up, this term now makes perfect sense to me.
According to the Guidelines for Normal Speech & Language Development chart, /m/ is right there with /b/ and /p/. Babies babble this sound at six months and at eighteen months, they use it inconsistently at the beginning of words. There’s a reason why “mama” is one of the first words that a baby speaks. I also suppose that’s why our first SLP with Babies Can’t Wait encouraged us to teach him the words “me” and “more” along with the signs, when he was silent at 27 months old.
As an additional reference, I couldn’t help but look back at http://www.soundsofenglish.org that I referred to last week in order to see how they explained the production of this sound. According to this site, /m/ and /n/ are “nasal” sounds. If you close your mouth to make the /m/ sound and then pinch your nose shut, the sound stops. Therefore, air has to go out your nose in order to produce this consonant. Fortunately, once Jake started getting therapy for this sound, he caught on pretty quick.
In carpool line today at preschool, I multi-tasked a bit and recorded him saying a few /m/ words with my iPhone. Also, when we got home, he worked on this sound a little more with the Speech-EZ app. IPad touch screens really do have a way of wowing kids and encouraging them to practice their speech.