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Date: 8/18/2015 3:11 PM EDT

disney characters

When challenged with a way to describe why her sister doesn't talk like the rest of us, a young girl made the analogy to Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  Her sister has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) which makes it difficult for her to put sounds and words together into a smooth word or sentence.  So she described her sister as Ariel since she understands everything that you are saying to her, but she just can't talk back to you.  What a great way to describe a difficult disorder to children and make them understand.

When the movie Frozen arrived in the movie theater, there were parallels made to autism.  Elsa has something that she must hide from society since it is not "normal" or may seem weird.  For those that have sensory processing difficulties due to autism, they may have what some consider "odd" behaviors that they need to hide.  Elsa would rather hide away and be able to be herself than conform to those around her much like those with autism who would like to be able to thrive in their own environment the way that they respond best.

These are just two examples of how we relate everyday occurrences with fictional characters.  What Disney character do you relate to?

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Date: 7/12/2015 10:18 PM EDT

We all have a voice and we choose to use it in many different ways.  We chat, we educate, we advocate, we connect.  Our voice is part of how we show the world who we are and what we stand for.  The ability to use our voice comes so naturally to most of us, but for others it is a struggle.  Some of those that struggle are those with childhood apraxia of speech.

Yesterday I returned from a trip that included some vacation and a conference in San Antonio, TX.  The conference was the CASANA National Apraxia conference.  Though there were lots of learning opportunities for both parents and professionals, the part of the weekend that will remain with everyone is Danny's story.

Danny is a child with apraxia of speech.  Though he struggles to speak, his personality oozes from every pore and you can't help but enjoy your time spent with him.  When he needed a voice, his brother's friend was there to give him one.  His friend stood up for him and taught everyone a lesson...that everyone is different, but we should embrace those differences.

When we can't find our voice, we need others to help us find our voice since we all deserve to have a voice.  That is exactly why I organize the Lehigh Valley Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech.  Until these kids can find their own voice, we need to help them find it.  Everyone can do that by walking, donating or spreading awareness.  Each year we reach more people so that awareness spreads.  This year's walk preparations are under way and it will be held on Sunday September 20th, 2015 at Lone Lane Park in Allentown from 9-12.  You can find out more here http://bit.ly/1Si5qyJ[embed]

Watch Danny's video here [embed]https://youtu.be/l-usO_YCV4M[/embed]

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Date: 3/8/2015 3:32 PM EDT

Several weeks ago I had to say goodbye to one of my clients, a strong, smart 2 year old.  In all aspects of his life he showed those around him how to fight through adversity.  Going through cancer treatments, left him unable to express himself through natural speech, but he spoke volumes with his expressions and his yes/no responses.  In my practice I look for every angle to help my kids learn to communicate.  Ultimately we want them to be able to speak with their voices, but if that isn’t a reality we can hear their voice through augmentative communication.  When I got this little boy a loaner Ipad to use with speech software, I had no idea that he would be speaking his last words using the device.  I am happy to have at least allowed him the opportunity to truly make requests and control his world a little before he passed.  As his grandma said, “you gave him his voice.”  His aunt commented, “it was great that he was bossing us around.”

I always goall in “all in” for my clients because you never know their potential unless you try.  I have heard too many times from parents, teachers, doctors, grandparents and others that a child will never talk or they aren’t able to do that.  And my response is always that you don’t know what a child can do until you give them the chance.  I see my role as the SLP as the bridge that helps kids find their voice through whatever means we can.  We need to exhaust every possibility to see how to reach their potential.

I saw a 4 year old little girl whose grandfather told her mom that she wasn’t capable of communicating.  He didn’t have faith in her potential.  I took great pride in setting up her communication device and proving her grandfather wrong.  She may have been trapped in a body that couldn’t move the way that she wanted, but she had lots to say.  She activated a head switch to make her communication device talk.   Though it wasn’t easy for her, she showed her potential.

So the next time don’t judge someone’s potential….go all in because you never know what might happen.

Heather :)

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Date: 1/12/2014 9:05 PM EST

ImageThis time of year is filled with sniffles of all kinds.  In a world where we all want to make an impact on the environment and decrease our carbon footprint, we find ways to reduce and reuse.  So, what to do with all of those empty tissue boxes?  As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I am always looking for creative activities to keep my clients engaged in learning new skills.  For children with speech sound disorders, I find lots of uses for tissue boxes.  My first idea for use of tissue boxes is to make a dice out of it.  I pick a targeted sound, syllable or word to put on each side of the box.  I print out pictures of targeted sounds and we roll the dice to see what sound to practice.   For the children having difficulty with verbs, I put actions on the dice for the child to label the action in the picture and then perform the action.  We have used several boxes together for sentence building where I put subjects on one dice, verbs on another and objects on the third to create subject + verb + object. 

I also create mystery boxes out of them.  Decorate the outside of the box with question marks and fill the box with objects (I like to use buttons of different shapes).  I create a board for matching the object that the child pulls out of the box.  We are not only working on naming objects, but also matching skills. 

Another way to use them is to create a monster or animal out of them.  Use the hole at the top of the box for the mouth and decorate the box, then have the monster "eat" whatever target you want. 

So as you get over your next illness, save that tissue box and do something useful with it. 

Heather :)

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Date: 10/11/2013 4:38 PM EDT

This weekend is the 3rd Annual Allentown Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech.  It is very exciting that we have almost 300 people walking in the event!  We are thrilled to have reached many more people this year and that we are raising more money for a great cause! 

In the process of registration for the walk, I was contacted by two families that touched my heart.  One mom mentioned to me how happy she was to find out about the walk since her son has apraxia of speech.  She also stated that she is thrilled to be able to meet other families and especially children with apraxia so that her son can make more friends.  Another family learned of the grants that CASANA provides for Ipads for nonverbal children with apraxia.  These are two reasons that we walk...to raise money to fund these programs and to connect people together in the same goal. 

I can't wait to post pictures after the walk on Sunday!

Heather :)

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