Thursday, February 14, 2013
Valentines for our kids' therapists: from parents, with love
Some of my favorite people of all time are the therapists in Max's life. Therapists past and therapists present: I have a huge debt of gratitude toward them. They have been key to teaching, enabling, encouraging and enriching Max, helping him achieve to the best of his abilities. They have shown me how to best help him. I am forever in awe of their smarts, patience, dedication, and just how much they care. As much as I've felt like throwing my arms around them and giving them a big old kiss, I have refrained, for which I am sure they are grateful.
This Valentine's Day, I'm spreading some love to Max's speech therapists, J&J.
J #1 has been in Max's life since he was a baby. She faithfully comes to our home every Saturday morning, and that alone is amazing because it's not common in our area to have visiting speech therapists. She brings along a bag of games and crafts, and works with Max at our kitchen table or in his room, depending on his mood. She's a big fan of Colorforms' Silly Faces Stick-On Games, which she plays with him to get him talking. She has shown me oral-motor exercises to help loosen up his tongue and jaw; he speaks so much more articulately when those areas aren't tense. Lately, thanks to her, we have Max biting on ChewyTubes in the morning to help loosen him up—placed on the back molar, 10 bites per side (we use the red one).
While she's with him I sit outside the room to listen in, and I hear J getting Max to say words I've never heard him clearly articulate before—"go" and "ketchup" and "monkey" and "down." She describes "p" and "b" sounds to him as "lip poppers" and "d" "l" "n" and "t" sounds as "tongue tappers" (as in, your tongue is tapping the roof of your mouth). She gives me guidance on what to tell the other therapists in Max's life, like when I emailed last week to ask what the music therapist could focus on. She is savvy and practical, too. She does not hesitate to let me know she has a concern—but when Max says something great her face lights up, and then I know it is a Big Deal.
J #2 is Max's speech therapist at school. It was J who in May 2010 first asked whether I might be interested in trying out an iPad and Proloquo2Go speech app with Max. "YES!" I said, and Max's world opened up. J is incredibly enthusiastic and progressive. I appreciate how forward-thinking she is because while there are good speech therapists out there, not all are willing to embrace technology like she has.
She is full of good ideas for engaging Max; right now, Max and another kid in his class do a speech therapy session together once a week and J has them telling each other knock-knock jokes on their iPads. She is always coming up with ways to expand Max's use of his speech app. Of course, she also gets him working on verbalizing and articulating words. "Max impresses me every week," she recently emailed. "He is talking so much, combining sounds and then using the iPad. His approximations have increased and improved."
Which therapists are your special needs valentines?
This is one of a series of posts sponsored by CVS Caremark All Kids Can, a commitment to helping children of all abilities be the best they can be. Like them on Facebook!
Photo credit: Flickr/nanny snowflake