Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Themed Speech Ideas

The week of Easter is upon us!! I know the day will come and go in a flash just like every other day I anticipate, but so I’m excited for Keegan to see what the Easter Bunny brought him!

I thought it would be fun to tie Easter-themed stuff into mommy speech therapy and we’ve been doing some really fun things, one activity which I transformed from the websites below..

Awhile ago I found a bunch of AWESOME YouTube videos featuring ideas and activities to promote speech, all done by Teach Me to Talk’s, Laura Mize, a pediatric speech-language pathologist .  
 These videos can be found on their YouTube channel or on the actual Teach Me to Talk website.  She seems like the sweetest lady and has a bunch of awesome ideas!!!
The activity I’m focusing on in particular, I got from her Tupperware blocks video, but I’m using plastic Easter eggs as the block replacement. 

I started by finding objects around the house that Keegan is familiar with. I also bought some of these small baby animals, that fit right into the eggs.  We open the eggs by first prompting Keegan to sign or say “open."  The egg “cracks open” and we see “what’s inside.”  I make sure to repeat these words each time we go to a new egg, because the familiar phrases will help Keegan  know what’s coming next and he can feel comfortable and confident with talking and joining in.

We then name the object and if its something we use, like a key or a small cup, we perform their actions, or if it’s an animal we make the appropriate sounds, if applicable…… because I couldn’t tell you how to make a zebra sound ;)
What’s a really cute idea is to act like the animals are then going to sleep in the eggs when we close them back up, we practice this by saying “Sssshhh” “Night-night” “Bye-bye,” all phrases that we use during our everyday life.  That is Keegan’s favorite part, pretending they’re going to sleep.. he gets a kick out of it.  Sometimes he’ll tell me that they are cold, and we go get them blankets, too sweet lol

During therapy this past week, Keegan’s therapist did something similar with the eggs except she hid them and we went on an egg hunt!  We sang a song: 
“Going on an egg hunt, egg hunt, egg hunt!  Going on an egg hunt!  Looking for some eggs”  
 After a couple times of singing the song, we would leave out the last word “eggs” to prompt Keegan to say it, sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t ;)
There were objects in each of the eggs and Keegan would shake, shake, shake it and find out what was inside then put them in his basket.

We also have different sized eggs, so sometimes we’ll categorize them by big, medium or small and even the color of the eggs, all while working on our words and sounds.. so simple!

Sorry, no fun pictures of the activity to post, because when my focus strays, so does Keegan’s! But here’s a cute one of my little sidekick, napping.
Have a great day!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fingerprint Easter Card Craft

Does anyone else feel like their days are blurring together?  I need a planner. Or two. Too much to do, so little prepared time ;)

Today before therapy we did a little Easter craft.  Last night I drew some baskets onto a 4x6 piece of card stock and we used those baskets to hold our Easter Egg Fingerprints!!! 
I love how they turned out, especially with the twine bow I glued on.

Too adorable and a great gift to send to loved ones.  If you don't want to draw the baskets, there's plenty of images online you can print off to use. 

Some helpful tips to keep in mind:  
-Using Keegan's finger prints instead of thump prints was easier to handle.
-Don't expect every card to look good.
 -For us, we only did a couple at a time and took some breaks.  When its not painting according to Keegan's agenda, things aren't fun ;)

Have a wonderful day :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Okay to Be Different!

I remember the day Keegan recognized for the first time, that his words do not sound how they are “expected to”.  Nothing can take his look of sadness and embarrassment out of my head.  It was a moment where I was left wondering “How do I fix this? How can I make this better?”  The road to getting therapy was already on the way but I realized there was something else I had to do: my own research and my own duty as a mother to teach him and let him know, “It’s OK!” Sometimes it seemed as if hearing those words from me just made it worse for Keegan so I found plenty of blogs, and articles with recommendations on how to help kids cope or understand that there is nothing wrong with having difficulties or differences.  Here is a great book I found (geared towards toddlers) that parents can read to their child, disabled or not, about how it is 100% okay to be different!

Awesome book with cute illustrations.  I find it’s a good starter-kit for conversations about being different.  From my standpoint, it’s the parents job to elaborate from this book, when they feel their child is ready, and really talk about how no one will ever be the same size, how everyone has strengths and weaknesses and quirks, how not everyone celebrates the same culture, religion, or is the same color and that’s what makes the world an awesome place!  Everyone is unique. 

 There is something else I wanted to share with you guys, other blogs with a great message to give.  But first, I’ll elaborate.

Guaranteed, when Keegan goes to school, whether he has his speech disorder or not, he would at some point get his feelings hurt by another child, its just what happens, unfortunately.  But despite the inevitable, I fear for him, for his confidence, for his pride, for his heart because it will be hard.  I have seen first hand what happens when a young child hears Keegan talk.  Nothing negative yet, but in one instance, all play was stopped and all talking was halted and all innocent toddler eyes were on Keegan.  He felt it and knew it.  He felt the confusion and each time a situation like this arose, he became embarrassed.  I pray that although he has a good support system at home, with family and with his current therapist, he will be able to find a good support system at school, too.  Yessss it’s a few years away, so I have to breathe, but just the same, I’ve decided to start preparing myself for some (maybe) tough times ahead. 

(Let me just add, not all kids look at Keegan weird when he talks.  Some kids.. esp his cousins.. are happy to listen to him, and I love that!! Even though they might not know exactly what to say in return after Keegan’s done talking.. lol!! )

Yeah, it is a shock when a child hears Keegan talk for the first time, they can’t understand him and that is confusing to someone who is young and who is not used to that.  I know this, so I tried to come up with different ways to handle and respond to those situations….and I’ve practiced these scenarios over and over in my head plenty of times, so if the time ever comes where I need to use them, I’m prepared. I hope…. !!

 -“He sounds funny.” 
-me :“He does seem to speak a little bit differently than you and me, but that is his way of talking.  He is trying very hard to learn how to say lots of words and he is doing a great job!”

- “Why does he talk/sound like that?”…..
-me: “Sometimes, things are just hard to do.  It may be hard for some kids to read, walk, ride a bike, even eat certain foods.  All this kind of stuff takes practice.  Speaking is hard for Keegan and he is practicing a lot to make his words sound just like yours and mine and is doing a great job.” 
***I think it’s a good idea to definitely show other children that although some kids might be different they all enjoy a lot of the same things.  For example:
“Keegan likes dragons, dogs and movies.  Do you like any of those things? Maybe you can talk to Keegan about what you like about them, I think he would like that. “

I hope I never even have to use those made up scenarios in my head, but who knows!

..In my opinion, it is always okay for children to ask questions but it is never okay for them to be rude.  
This is why I wanted to share blogs and articles I stumbled upon a few months ago.  There is some really really good content on them and I find myself coming back to the sites often.  These entries in particular gives ideas on how to talk to your child about those with disabilities and to not shy away from those kinds of situations.
Here's a good blog dealing with kids and sensory needs/behavior 
Happy reading!!!! :)

I vow to teach my son that sometimes people aren’t nice, they will do and say mean things, but you must not succumb to that.  You can’t dwell in the fact that someone was mean.  You must always remember it is most important to forgive, and know that you are more than what your voice sounds like, what color your skin is, what you look like, if you can walk or you can’t- it’s how you treat yourself and others that matters most.  God will guide you and protect you when you feel you can’t.  Know how wonderful you are and everything will be just fine.


To my Keegan,
Hold your head high and don’t be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.
-Nancy Tillman from Wherever You Are, my love will find you

You are my role model.  You have taught me many things, one of which is to ‘be you’.   Ever since you were teeny tiny, you have done everything at your own pace, your own way, your own time.  I think that is wonderful and refreshing and inspiring.  Never stop being you and never stray from who you are.  I’m enjoying watching the parade you’re in and can’t wait to see what comes next.

Love, Ma

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Toddler Boy Easter Basket

Happy Wednesday!
These past couple days have been filled with appointments, brainstorming, wedding planning, wedding shopping, much needed wagon walks and a BIG realization that Keegan’s third birthday is less than a month away! What?!  So cliché, but how can time seriously go this fast? I usually have all of his party details organized by now but I have been slacking big time.  I’m also leaning towards a smaller get-together this year so I’m unsure if I want to have a theme or not.  If we’re doing a theme, Dr. Seuss all the way, but we will see.
When I asked what he wanted for his birthday, Keegan said, “Ummm, ee tay,” while pointing to his mouth, which totally meant he wanted to eat cake! Smart cookie.  Of course Mommy will make you a cake for your birthday ;)  He was also happy with the books and puzzle suggestions I offered, lol…
For his birthday, Keegan is getting a very big and special gift he’s sure to enjoy, but we’ll have to wait and see what that is ;) ;)

While my party planning is MIA, my gift buying is not.  I officially have Easter and birthday shopping completed! Here’s a look at most of the major goodies going inside our boy’s basket this year.

-The lift-flap book features bugs-- right up a little boy’s alley, and the explorer’s kit with a child friendly magnifying glass and tweezers will go perfect on our adventures through the woods by our house.
-These 12-piece M&D jig-saw puzzles are challenging, but do-able enough that Keegan doesn’t retreat from frustration.  Love these!
-Also, who can resist adorable spring clothes?! Bring on the warm weather!

The Easter bunny will also be gracing Keegan’s basket with new undies, bubbles, PlayDoh and stickers, but no candy! Lol He will most certainly get enough of that from grandparent bunnies, I’m sure. (Maybe I’ll sneak M&M’s in some eggs)

Can’t wait to share some of the crafts and activities we’ve been coming up with, and a very special book I got for Keegan this week!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Felt Board Introduction

When it comes to Keegan, an almost 3 year old, there is no structure and scheduled speech time (as much as I want there to be.)  He simply doesn’t allow it and will catch on no matter what, so that’s why pressure is off and we learn through his play, books, songs and nursery rhymes, really anything with predicted text that sets him up for success.

I feel as though I have found something that is the best of both our worlds- a felt board!!!  The board we made this winter makes me feel as if Keegan and I are doing a more structured activity but yet it still gives the playtime feeling that Keegan wants, so it is a perfect component to our mommy speech therapy. 

Then the fun begins! There are so many endless possibilities and we have so much fun with this board.  At first, it was a new activity, so it took Keegan awhile warm up to it and also to realize how to stick the pieces (felt sticks to felt) but now he loves it! Fun, AND a learning tool?! Win –Win!

I have made all of our felt pieces myself from the small pieces at the craft store, but there are some Etsy sites out there that have beautiful pre-made pieces you can buy.  I absolutely love this kind of stuff: brainstorming what activity I want to make, creating it through the felt, everything! If you make the pieces yourself, I found its best if a very sharp scissors is used, hot glue to glue some pieces together, and fabric paint to make eyes, etc.

Today, I’m just going to focus on the nursery rhymes/songs that we are working on but there’s plenty more to come!  When singing and doing the rhymes I make the pace slow so it's easier for Keegan to catch up and/or join in.  Some of these might be self explanatory, but I put the lyrics just in case ;)

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
“Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,
one fell off and bumped his head
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
‘No, more monkeys jumping on the bed!’ “

Now there’s four monkeys jumping on the bed, three, etc.

Way Up High in the Apple Tree
“Way up high in the apple tree
Five red apples smiled at me (use fingers to show how many)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (pretend to shake the tree)
Down came an apple (point down with finger)
Mmmmm, it was good!” (rub belly)

Elephants in the Bathtub
“One elephant in the bathtub going for a swim
Knock knock (knock on the board)
Splash splash (clap hands)
Come on in!!!” (bring the next elephant in the bathtub, up to 5)

Raffi’s Going on a Picnic remix lol

If you’ve ever heard Raffi’s song, “Going on a Picnic” it sounds semi-similar to this, but I made it so it’s constantly repetitive, one item at a time, which in my opinion, makes it easier.

My version:
“Going on a picnic, leaving right away
if it doesn’t rain, we’ll stay all day
Did you bring the __________?
Yes we brought the _________!
Ready for a picnic, here we go.”
..repeat with the next picnic item..

Ahhh!! I love it! These are so fun regardless of who is playing with them… I’m even thinking of making a doll dress up activity for me… LOL!!!!
There are more felt activities on the way so stay tuned ;)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Our Weekend and Speech Regression

We had a busy weekend over here..  Friday was filled with approximately 500 phone calls and three appointments regarding Keegan, one of which we were able to meet his new speech therapist, come April.  Exciting!  Saturday, Mike and I went on a full day shopping/wedding planning adventure and got a ton of big items checked off of our list: rings, tux, shoes, etc! As for Sunday, my family hosted a small bridal shower for me with just our immediate family.. So beautiful and so much fun!!  Thank you everyone! Now I don't have to worry about borrowing kitchen items and never again having mismatched silverware, plates.. everything!! lol<3

Here's what's new regarding Keegan:
Ever since his behavioral consultation last Tuesday, I've been noticing some regression in Keegan's speech, which really upsets me.  Although it's not uncommon for there to be some here and there, I couldn't help but think Keegan's regression stemmed from all these changes the behaviorist suggested, which was frustrating.  
After all of our appointments on Friday, I decided, no matter what suggestions are given to me, I'm still going to parent how I'm comfortable parenting.... I will always take some of the behaviorist's advice (or demands......) into consideration but there is going to have to be a happy medium.  I'm not satisfied with some of the changes that were made and I can see some of the changes may be hurting Keegan and his ability to thrive with his speech.  Although some recommendations that were given will benefit us, I have to remember to always go with my gut, especially when it comes to parenting--- so happy medium it is!  All of these issues were spoken about at our meetings so everyone is on the same page and in agreement.  
This week, Keegan has a longer speech appointment because his time with our current ST is coming to an end... so sad, but I know we will be in good hands with our next one. 

Here are some pictures of the bridal shower! 
My favorite helper.. :)

We finally had nice day today... so refreshing!! We took a wagon ride, had a good time on the swing, and played with our standing sandbox. (our other one is still covered in ice and snow.)  It was odd to be having so much fun in nice weather with there still so much snow on the ground! Lol! We are so looking forward to more days like this! 
And also looking forward to having a successful and productive week!!!! :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New Day, New Struggles

For a while I felt as if I was hiding Keegan and myself.. hiding a part of our lives… which most nights, left me feeling guilty.  It took a lot of strength, but on Monday night, I decided I was done hiding.  I shared my blog and posts about Keegan’s speech disorder on my Facebook wall, which was super scary for me.  The second I pressed “post” my nerves got the best of me and I started to shake and shiver and there were a few tears.  I don’t like feeling vulnerable and I had just exposed the biggest obstacle in our lives. 

I was so scared of what kind of feedback I would receive or how people would react to me sharing Keegan’s struggles.  To my surprise, I received the most wonderful feedback I could have hoped for.  So many people reached out to me, including those with whom I haven’t spoken to or seen in years, people sharing their experiences with me, people offering words of encouragement, everything.. It was so incredible to see all those people who truly cared about what I had to say about Keegan.  The support system of family and friends that I have is unbelievable and we are very grateful for that.

The morning after my post, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders; I didn’t feel like I was hiding anymore.  Everyone goes through situations, many situations, that they can’t control.  It’s taken me a long time to realize life is definitely not going to come even remotely close to how I think it will be, but that’s okay.  I’m just here on the journey and will handle whatever obstacles God gives me.
Giraffe needed his diaper changed 

Yesterday, we had an evaluation with a behavior specialist, to whom we were referred to by our speech therapist and the EI coordinator.  Lately, it’s pretty rare that we get through a speech therapy session without Keegan shedding some tears.
It turns out that Keegan also has behavioral issues as a result from his speech disorder.  He can’t communicate in ways that he wants to, so he will get frustrated at the slightest thing that he can’t do himself.  He is SO aware.  He knows he’s not capable of, at this moment, being able to control his voice so he gets embarrassed and angry and upset when other things don’t come easily to him either.  There was so much information I was given, and I was shown ways to change my parenting towards him to help diminish his negative reactions to little things. 
After pages of notes, a scheduled hour and a half appointment that actually lasted over 3 hours and plenty of tears shed from Keegan and me, we are on our way to success!
Yep, I said tears from me.  This lady probably thought I was nuts.  In fact she did joke around “Your poor husband” lol!!  But it was just very difficult, and such a weird feeling to have something like my parenting, that I worked so hard to be good at, be critiqued to the very last bit.  I am EXTREMEMLY emotional lol and kept crying when I would explain why I did this, why I did that.. It’s not something you ever think you’re going to have to clarify, yet alone change.  But I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really nothing personal, just something that needed to be done to help me ultimately help Keegan with his communication and speech.  It’s all a big circle, really.
Yesterday was draining, but today was a little better.  I’m sure the next few weeks will be, too, until I can wrap my head around all of this info and Keegan and our family can get used to this change.

To My Keegan:
[Christopher Robin to Pooh Bear, one of your favorites :)]
“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”
-A.A. Milne

At this moment, I have to believe this for myself and I have to trust that what I’m doing is best for you. You are so brave and smart and strong. You are my favorite teammate.  Together we can do this.  Together we can conquer anything.   

Love, Ma

Monday, March 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Keegan said his first FULL CVC word this past Saturday afternoon during lunch… any guesses?! Ham!  He pronounced every syllable so nicely-definitely something I'll remember for a long time.  I’m still replaying it in my head.  Can you guess why he may be so awesome at saying that word?!  Yepp, it may be because he hears it 9,000x a day when I read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. 

In my experience, one of the best tools I’ve used in Keegan’s speech-therapy-through-mom (lol) is reading.  Any kind of reading/book is awesome but more specifically, our therapist taught us that a repetitive book may produce the best results with having the child join in with reading.  These kinds of books allow Keegan to be more willing to participate and they also set him up for success because he is able to anticipate what word comes next due to the predictable text.  While reading, I make sure to leave plenty of pauses for him to fill in the word that I missed.  In our experience, there are a few Dr. Seuss books that are awesome for this:  Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Mr. Brown can Moo, Can You?  We read every Dr. Seuss book that we own multiple times a day and I believe they have done nothing but helped Keegan’s confidence and nurture his love of books.  So, thank you Dr. Seuss or in Keegan’s words, “dahh who” ;)

I’ve put together a small list of popular, repetitive books (other than Seuss) we frequent most often. 

Are You My Mother?      P.D. Eastman
Blue Hat Green Hat      Sandra Boynton
Brown Bear Brown Bear   Bill Martin Jr.
Polar Bear Polar Bear     Bill Martin Jr.
Is Your Mama a Llama?  Deborah Guarino
Goodnight Moon        Margaret Wise Brown

 What books have you had success with?

To my Keegan:
“Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you!”  -Dr. Seuss

These words are most certainly true when it comes to you.  You are someone to be proud of.  Never forget that all of your triumphs and struggles, no matter how big or small, have made you who you are.  No one can take that away from you.  I am proud to love YOU.

Love, Ma