Thursday, October 16, 2008

Apraxia & Augmentative Communication

It's official. The term "apraxia" has been thrown around a lot around Brian. By his occupational therapist, his speech therapist, and even myself. I would always say "It's almost like on top of his autism he is dealing with some apraxic issues..." Well, just like when I was hinting around about autism, I was right. His speech therapist finally said, out loud, yesterday "Oh yeah he's definitely apraxic". Poor guy- what else can we throw at him to make understanding & communicating with the world any harder?
I've only read little things here & there about verbal apraxia when we had a couple kiddos in our school last year with it so I still need to do tons of research so I can fully comprehend it- which is good as I was telling our one-on-one that I've read everything there is available on autism- now I have some new reading material. Yes, I try to make light and find the good in everything!
But here's what I know for those who are interested:
Apraxia of speech is a disorder in which a person has trouble saying what s/he wants correctly and consistently. It's a motor planning issue. They have a really hard time planning the movements and remembering how to produce sounds, even if they have made the sounds before.
Here's a website to learn more about apraxia- Apraxia-KIDS

Also on the speech front, Brian started using an augmentative communication device a couple weeks ago.
My feelings on using a device have in the past been questionable. I can see both sides of the argument- one, it could help language development by allowing him to see that "Wow! Words can make a difference- it can help me get what I want or need"- I feel it could be completely rewarding for him to see the cause & effect of language like that and also just to have the words always repeated to him when he pushes the button. On the other hand I could see how with some kiddos they could just get lazy and let the board do the talking for them and not worry about trying to produce the language themselves. But, I decided to put my fears aside that the latter might happen and go ahead and try it.
Really the big push for me to try it is the fact that Brian will be in kindergarten in the fall. Kindergarten. Can you believe it? And I am scared. Genuinely frightened. Anxiety about it almost everyday and everynight before I all asleep. I know I need to relax a bit but it's hard. He will be going to school, and unless big things happen before then (lord knows i pray for it everyday), he'll be going with no language. No way to communicate. Sure, myself and his one-on-one know him so well- we understand his language, his rudimentary signs, and his gestures- but how are all these new educators in his life going to know what he wants. So honestly I was excited about the idea of him being able to have a "voice" when he makes that transition next year- be it his own (which I'd prefer obviously) or a computer's.
So this is his talker right now. It's an 8 grid program so he can have eight pictures on the "screen" at once- it has 8 channels so 8 different cards are programmed into it. He's already showing that this is too "small" for him- on a couple occasions I've caught him trying so hard to open up the compartment in the back to find the card he's looking for. It's funny because we've used the PECS for so long but he just never had the drive to use it but he seems to enjoy using this board. AND he always repeats the word (or tries so hard) after the talker says it. So we are looking into something more compatible to him- perhaps a Dynavox. I'll keep everyone updated :)

1 comment:

just jeanne said...

I have 2 girls who are asperger's the other moderate to severe autism. I am curious to know more about apraxia? could you help me understand more? My daughter speaks, but not clearly to others..I am mom slash interpreter. ya know? My blog is new, justjeanneisfine.blogspot...but if you care to learn more about me my old one is still up