In April of last year, Jake ended public therapy with Babies Can’t Wait and began seeing a private SLP at my older son’s private, elementary school for one thirty minute session each week. During this time, there was no rhyme or reason to the words and sounds he worked on each week, and his therapy consisted of listening to the SLP enthusiastically, overemphasize words in stories and songs, doing puzzles, and attempting animal sounds.
After a couple of months, Jake was a tad more vocal and the SLP began a new approach and said that we would begin working on the /w/ sound. To get prepped for this sound, we did the following exercises at home for a couple of weeks:
- Blowing bubbles
- Blowing a cotton ball across the kitchen table
- Blowing out candles
At first, Jake couldn’t do any of these things. Sure, I had tried these activities in the past, but my attempts were unsuccessful and usually ended with a bunch of spit flying through the air. It was at this time, that I began to learn some things that gave me hope … tricks that made saying this sound and doing the blowing exercises easier.
- Watch my mouth, not my eyes.
- To get ready for a /w/ word, make a circle with your mouth.
- Mirror play. When Jake would get out of the bath tub each night, I would stand him up on the counter and model this mouth positioning by blowing and saying basic /w/ words. I would touch his mouth to help him form the circle.
I am happy to report that after about two weeks of practice, Jake was blowing bubbles, cotton balls, and candles like a champ. Then, the SLP presented us with a worksheet of words that included the following: well, wig, witch, web, watch, wall, walrus, windmill, and window. My immediate thought was, Aren’t these words a little difficult? If he can’t say something as basic as “wa” or “wi,” how is he possibly going to be able to say “walrus” or “windmill”?
Needless to say, we didn’t get very far with those words and a couple of weeks later, the SLP diagnosed him with apraxia right before his third birthday. Shortly after his diagnosis, I began reading everything I could get my hands on and soon realized specific, structured therapy for apraxia was out there. At that time, I decided to stop my sessions with our SLP and immediately began my quest to find an apraxia specialist who would heal my baby’s voice.
I was successful in my venture and I have found an amazing SLP who is a perfect fit for us. She is trained in the PROMPT method and we primarily use Kaufman cards in speech therapy. Some examples of the /w/ Kaufman words that Jake is working on are: wind, wand, one, wipe, white. He is having trouble, but if he really focuses and takes the time to form his mouth into a circle, he can usually make it happen.
From a developmental standpoint, /w/ is one of the first sounds that a baby makes and comes shortly after the /b, p, m/ sounds at 18 months of age. Although none of Jake’s SLPs have ever used a hand prompt for this sound, I am doing the Speech-EZ Apraxia hand cue for it. I am so grateful to Lynn Carahaly for creating this app.