Jake began speech therapy with SLP #4 in November of 2011 at age 3.2 years old.
I liked the following things that SLP #4 did …
- Used Kaufman cards on a regular basis.
- Structured approach. She worked on targeted sounds, words, and set goals.
- She drilled a large set of words (10 or so) before letting Jake play. Therapists in the past had drilled one word and then let Jake play. If he practiced several words in a row, his speech and focus would improve.
- Her focus was 100 percent on Jake. SLP #s 1,2, and 3 talked to me a lot during sessions.
I disliked the following things that SLP #4 did …
- Only did PROMPT for the first couple of sessions and then stopped.
- No variety in speech therapy sessions. Only 1 activity per session and the same method of drilling words each week – in a chair at a table with flash cards.
- When Jake regressed after nine months of therapy, she didn’t switch up her therapy approach to see if that would help. Her solutions were – (a.) I should stop working with him at home because he might be getting burned out. (b.) Go back to the first Kaufman words that he had mastered months before.
- She did not use hand cues and in my opinion, did not appear open to the Speech-EZ approach.
Jake did therapy with SLP #4 for about a year. In the end, we exchanged words over email, which shook our relationship to the point where I questioned whether or not it could ever be repaired.
That turning point with SLP #4 and the feeling of fear that no one was going to help me with my son’s apraxia, forced me into action.
It was then that I decided I would learn the details of the Speech-EZ program myself and that I would fly from Georgia to Arizona to get Lynn Carahaly, the creator of the program, to train me. I had a very strong gut feeling that this program would work because Jake had always been a natural with hand cues. After all, I heard my completely non-verbal, three-year-old, speaking on a ten-month-old level, say his first sounds and words with cues.
The week after SLP #4 and I had our disagreement, she had a conference to attend and I saw a substitute therapist. Turns out, that twist of fate introduced me to SLP #5!
I watched with tears in my eyes as SLP #5 used hand cues with Jake without me even asking. The chemistry between she and Jake was magnetic. I will never forget that day. A boy who had just turned four-years-old and was about to start repeating the first Kaufman set, said “spaghetti” with hand cues. Wow.
Jake started therapy with SLP #5 in November of 2012 and I view her as an angel who rescued us. She was and still is everything I’d ever dreamed of and wanted for Jake.
We did still end up going to Arizona to do a week of intensive therapy with Lynn Carahaly in May of 2013 and SLP #5 was open to working with Lynn and learning as much as she could from that experience. She has also been 110 percent on board with the Speech-EZ hand cues. Also, she is so proactive with apraxia that she is attending the CASANA conference this year in Nashville. She rocks!
I think SLP #5 is the perfect speech-language pathologist and is outstanding at her job. This is the advice I gave the young SLP-in-training who contacted me a few weeks ago and inspired this series. SLP #5 possesses all of these qualities …
- Hand cues and Kaufman cards.
- Multiple activities and different lesson plans in each session.
- Drill the same concepts, but switch up the approach. For example, right now we consistently work on asking questions and auditory memory, but there’s many ways that you can do that.
- Think outside the box! For example, if the child seems to be distracted with saying one word and then playing a game, try drilling ten words. If they seem “on” after ten words, keep going. If they have ants in their pants, switch gears and do an activity that requires movement.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest information about apraxia and continue to learn. It puts a parent’s mind and heart at ease to know they have an expert working on their team.
- Be nice, but firm, and set high standards. SLP #5 makes Jake work hard and always pushes him to be better. A great coach!
- Give the parent homework to do with their child at home. Don’t make them ask (or beg!) you to give it to them.
- Have a respectful partnership with the parent. SLP #5 is the only therapist who has valued my opinion as a mom. I love her for this!
- The child’s best interest is always #1! Therapy is not about parent and/or SLP egos and who is right and wrong. It is about getting that child to talk and doing everything in your power to make that happen.
In November of 2013, after one year of being with SLP #5, Jake’s test results showed that he no longer has apraxia. His errors are now age-appropriate and consistent.
We will end speech therapy with SLP #5 at the end of May (5.8 years old) and it is bittersweet. The day that I have dreamed of is finally here and instead of jumping up and down with joy, there is a part of me that wants to sit down and have a good cry.
The journey – the struggle – with speech is almost over. While I know more challenges lie ahead of us, I survived this trial. With SLP #5’s help, we kicked apraxia’s butt! She has become a huge friend in our life and not having her to cheer us on makes me feel sad. However, I know it is time to move on; it is time for change.