I wrote my last post on apraxia on May 2, 2012, exactly seven weeks ago. Oh my, the progress Shu has made since then!
I'll just start with a few highlights contrasting the last post with now:
UP is no longer up-puh.
OPEN is consistently oh-pah. Still not correct, but closer.
Can now say bye, my, die, me, bee, pee, mommy, daddy, happy--all of which were absolutely impossible for him to say seven weeks ago.
Can now put some final consonants on the ends of words, such as: EAT and OUT and DOWN (though there is still a large gap between the "dow" and the "n").
Shu can now produce most of the consonants (with the exception of some harder ones that any just-turned-two year old might struggle with) in isolation, and many of them in combination with vowels, i.e. me, bee, go, dough, toe, why.
We are working hard to add final consonants too. He seems to have mastered a final "t," and we are currently working on words like snack ("nack"), down, done, book (which usually comes out "boop"). We are correcting for bay-bee instead of buh-bee, and are close to adding
the second syllable TER to wah-ter. Shu does extremely well when he is
willing to focus on our mouths, and is getting to the point where just a
simple cue like placing my tongue in position for those final Ks or TER
is enough to help him say it on his own. None of these words' final sounds have yet become embedded in Shu's "plan" (plan = his mouth knowing how to form each sound correctly every single time) and getting them there requires extreme repetition, which he is sometimes in the mood for, and sometimes really, really not.
Like this very exact moment, for instance. Shu dropped something on the floor, said "uh-oh," and wanted me to retrieve it. I said "Did it drop?" and then wanted to help him repeat the sounds for the word drop. "Dop," rather, since he can't do blends. He immediately began stiffening and screaming. And he is now sitting in time out while he screams and drips tears and snot and drool all over himself and decides whether or not he's ready to try the word drop. This is a daily occurrence in our home. And I can predict with zero reliability when he will be totally receptive and practice his sounds like a rockstar, and when he will immediately go berserko about it.
So in another minute I will go back in, ask him if he's ready, to which he will respond "yeah," and then he will attempt to say "drop." I will praise him, and then he will return to his regularly scheduled programming as if his 15 minute tantrum did not occur.
So, as I was saying...
Shu still has trouble with the OOO sound. He can't really pucker his lips (part of his oral motor planning problem), so his OOO sounds more like OH. He says his own name "Doh." He also can't lick food off his lips, though he eats anything and everything just fine, and does crazy things with his tongue while trying to make certain sounds. The other day the speech therapist noticed his tongue was twisted almost completely sideways while saying a word that, needless to say, did not require the sideways twisting of his tongue. This also affects his skill with puzzles; he has great difficulty making the pieces fit. (This is the same issue that made learning sign language so counterproductively challenging for a child who really could have benefited from it.) He is drooling way less, and drinks from a straw--a coffee stirrer, even!--like a champ.
We are also practicing using the word NO. Hard to imagine I'd want to teach a toddler to say "no" more often, but we need him to! He'll say "yeah" to absolutely anything, and we have a bit of fun at his expense. Is that wrong? Today I asked him if mommy should grow a beard, to which he replied (of course) "yeah." It gets him in trouble when I ask him if he's all done, or if he wants to sit on his time out stool. So we try to make practice fun, asking him "Am I Daddy?" No! "Is this my nose?" No! The problem is once he gets on a streak of yesses or nos, he'll just keep right on going, even when he knows full well that is (or is not) my nose. But he's starting to be more thoughtful of the correct answer.
He is building his one-word vocabulary at a tremendous rate. He has dozens more spontaneous words, even though they are missing or contain wrong initial or final consonants, and his vowels are much, much clearer. Shu still has trouble with more than one word at a time, so although he can say hi, bye, daddy, mommy, dog, etc. he cannot say "Hi, mommy" or "Bye, daddy" or "more [anything]." He just doesn't have the plan yet.
He babbles much more than ever before. If I didn't know otherwise, I'd think there was a twelve-month-old in his crib rather than a twenty-five-month-old. I don't say that to be critical. Shu is finally discovering his mouth, his tongue, his voice. And so he's finally babbling and experimenting in the same way that a much younger baby would.
Often I am aware of just how much progress he's made in speech--one reason I blog about it--and am so very proud of him (and of myself, I'll be honest). We have worked SO hard! Other times I am exhausted and frustrated, as is Shu I'm sure, hence the tantrums. I have the most delightful conversations with his 9.5-months-older sister, who can speak in full paragraphs, and I long to do the same with him. Dialoguing with a child is just so fulfilling and fascinating and fun, aside from the obvious convenience. He'll get there. I know he will. All this? In seven weeks? Gives me great hope to keep on keeping on.
Thanks, Father, that You pour on the grace and courage to do just that.