June 28, 2011

Therapy Tuesday: Speech Therapy

Children with Fragile X Syndrome have significant language delays. Some never talk while others battle echolalia (repeating a phrase over and over) and cluttered speech (click on the terms for definitions).

Grant's speech therapist (ST) uses a flip book with a series of pictures that focus on the use of certain sounds. To begin with she uses just one picture per page. Then, to encourage control, she can have the same picture repeat itself up to three times per page. The purpose of this is for Grant to realize that each time he says a word it represents an individual picture/item. Because of his echolalia and cluttered speech, he tends to say a word several times. For example, if you were to ask him to say ball he would probably say "baw-baw-baw" instead of just "baw" (or, preferably, "ball"). We are still working on the individual picture.

A lot of Grant's language delays stem from oral motor processing issues (Apraxia of Speech). While he knows what he wants, his brain has a difficult time planning and telling his mouth how to form the sounds into words to express his desires. This causes great frustration for Grant.

[Side story: A week ago I had laryngitis for several days and had absolutely no voice - I could barely whisper. It was a lot of work for me to communicate a simple command or request. By the end of the day I was extremely tired and frustrated at the amount of effort it took to express my thoughts. I can completely understand why Grant gets frustrated and angry!]

To begin therapy the ST often does oral motor exercises, like having Grant stick out his tongue and lick a sour lollipop to "wake-up" his mouth muscles and nerves.
z-vibe from funandfunction.com
We also use a z-vibe during therapy and throughout the day. A z-vibe is a special tool that vibrates intensely. Before each meal, I try to remember to run the z-vibe around his face (in a specific pattern) and along the inside of his mouth and on his tongue.

A few months ago, with the help of the ST, I began a speech sound inventory for Grant. The purpose is to document and evaluate his progress in making various sounds.

Click on the forms above to see a larger verson. You will need to click the back button on your browser to return to the blog.

The sound inventory was updated this morning (the first time we did it was on January 25th). I hope to continue updating it every three to four months. Grant was a little cranky this morning but still showed notable improvements. He works so hard. I am so proud of him.

This is just a small but key sampling of Grant's speech therapy. I am very grateful for his therapist and the dedication she has to my son.

As usual, if anyone as any good ideas or tips regarding speech therapy, I'm all ears!

1 comment

  1. Anything that requires sucking or blowing teaches the body to coordinate breath (essential for speech) can help a lot. E.g., blowing out candles, bubbles, pinwheels, blowing popcorn across a smooth surface, and sucking through twirly straws. Hope that helps!


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