by Jenny Sanzo, Contributing Writer
We just got back from two weeks in Washington, DC for CHAMP Camp at George Washington University, a summer intensive specifically for apraxic children ages 6-9.
What a wonderful experience!
CHAMP was the perfect mix of individual and group therapy, parent training, and free time. I really feel as though Colten made significant progress in the two weeks that we were there. I credit enthusiastic clinicians and visual/motor cues for his success. For example, to achieve the “v” sound, he pushed his thumb at the midpoint of his lower lip. For “w” he made a circular motion around his lips with his pointer finger. He worked tirelessly with a mirror to get his tongue to his top teeth to produce the “l” sound.
While we were there, he was able to get sounds that have been eluding him for ages: v, w, th, and l. He left there being able to say thirsty instead of “firsty,” lego not “way-go,” and no longer sounds like a vampire (he used to replace the “w” sound with the “v” sound – so welcome became “velcome” a whale was a “vale” and so on.) His s-blends have improved so much thanks to the tactile cue of gliding two fingers up his arm as he makes the “snake” sound. He can now say “school” not “tool.” The tactile piece was the magic bullet.
Other things I loved about CHAMP:
- Focus on literacy! Sight words, segmenting, phonemic awareness – all approached in fun and innovative ways.
- Help with grammar! Pronouns, negatives, and tenses, oh my!
- Incorporation of movement in his therapy. Colten is a very active kid. I loved watching his clinicians play soccer or basketball in the therapy room and then have him sit and go through his words so he could get up and play again.
- Individualized programming. They were so good about tailoring his therapy to his interests. Sports, Star Wars, Legos – they knew what he liked and got him to work. I wished I could have packed his therapists in my suitcase to take home.
- Community. There is something to be said for spending two weeks with other families who get it. To see Colten realize that he is not alone. To watch friendships blossom … friendships with children who each have their own set of challenges, but are overcoming them beautifully. To sit in the observation room with other parents, all with tears in our eyes desperately wishing the world could see how hard these children work for every single word. The solidarity. The understanding. The love. There was just so much love.
- Dedicated Clinicians. Students with full course loads who were prepping for back-to-back therapy sessions, still made it a priority to attend a baseball game with the kids. The effort and the dedication were astounding. There were well thought out plans for every session, creative projects and programming, and you could just tell that these clinicians are passionate about they do. They say “like attracts like” and Jodi Kumar must only attract the best and brightest students in the field, because I could not have been any more impressed. Bravo!
We’d love to go back for a three day intensive at some point during the school year and plan on returning next summer for sure. We couldn’t be happier with his progress and our CHAMP camp experience. I highly recommend this program if you have older children with apraxia – plus you get to explore Washington, DC. Win-win!
Colten gives CHAMP a big thumbs up!
Note from Tori: Thank you Jenny for sharing Colten’s experience at CHAMP. From the beginning, Jenny and I have been together on this crazy roller coaster ride called apraxia. She has definitely made the journey more entertaining! Jenny blogs at Flower City Fashionista and she is a great resource for the latest styles, as well as how to obtain some pretty fabulous hair!
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