Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way

It’s that time of year when the temperatures start cooling down and all of us moms begin settling into a back-to-school routine. Jake’s Pre-K 4 program started the last week in August, so he has been in school for about a month now.

This morning on the way to school,  we practiced his “song of the month” as we have done every day, Monday through Friday, for the past four weeks. For those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you may remember that although Jake’s speech has significantly improved, he is still really struggling in the singing songs department.

It’s not that he doesn’t like music. He LOVES music – at Kindermusik, in the car, at home, disc jockeying with the iPod, dancing – but for some reason, when words are put to a melody, it really throws him off. Instead of singing, speaking, or even attempting the words he knows, he ends up doing something that is a little like approximations and a lot like humming with your mouth open.

So, each month in school he will have a bible verse he has to memorize and a color song. He picked up on the six word memory verse pretty quick, but the “Yellow Song” has been a little more challenging …

 Y-E-L-L-O-W spells yellow. Y-E-L-L-O-W spells yellow. Yellow is a pretty color and because you’re a nice fellow, I will tell you some things that are yellow. Bananas, lemons, and the sun are yellow. Bananas, lemons, and the sun are yellow. Yes, all of these are yellow and I hope you will remember, Y-E-L-L-O-W spells yellow.

Oh my. Yes, when this song came home in his backpack, I was a little concerned. All of those syllables, words, and spelling the letters in the right order? Yikes. Would he and could he pull off learning a new song each month?

Because I’ve been trying to teach my child how to sing for three years, I now have a few tricks up my sleeve that make this task easier for him.

1. If I write the words of the song out and point to each one, it helps him. (A different sensory approach – seeing vs. just hearing the words). I figured this one out when he was a young four-year-old and before he knew his letters and sounds. Flash cards for each word in the song also work great.

2. Sing the song slower. Break up bigger words into smaller syllables.

3. Sing the entire song a few times each day, but focus on a few words or a line at a time.

4. VAST app – I love this app because it tackles learning a song from many different angles … a close-up of the mouth so the child can see how the words are made, the ability to slow the tempo down, and the words are also displayed. Many common children’s songs are on this app and this is how Jake learned two of the three songs he knows by heart: Happy Birthday and Zippadee-Do-Dah.

When I use the VAST app, he can learn a song in about 7-9 days if he practices it every day. VAST also have a feature that allows you to customize a song.

5. Speak – don’t sing – the words in the song.

6. Sign language – This is the latest piece in the puzzle. Jake learned how to talk with hand cues, so I’m not sure why I didn’t think to use sign language sooner to also help him with songs. I had this a-ha moment when he came home from Vacation Bible School this summer singing a song and signing the words just perfectly.

About two weeks into practicing the “Yellow Song” he was still having trouble with a couple of the words, so I googled the sign language for them. Now, when he gets to that part in the song and pauses, I do the sign language and then he reads my cue, does the sign language himself, while also singing/saying the word.

Have my techniques worked this month? We are 26 days into September and Jake is so close to knowing the “Yellow Song”! I’m still having to use sign language for “because you’re” and he is having a little trouble with the word “remember,” but otherwise he’s doing really well.

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