Sunday, January 31, 2016

Learning ASL and PECS

When Chelsea was born, before we knew about her special needs, I had already anticipated teaching her a little bit of sign language. I knew the signs for "Mom" and "more" and "milk", and that was about it. When she was a year old and not babbling, I started trying to teach her those signs. We did hand over hand every time we used those words, but even after 8 months, she didn't understand the concept.

Chelsea signs "school" on her first day of school in 2015

Because she wasn't catching on and I saw no progress, I gave that up and focused my energy on other areas of her development. At her two year evaluation with our early intervention program, the speech therapist recommended that we try ASL again. I decided that maybe it would be worth it to try again after a 4 month break, and had just had a new baby, so began teaching sign to both kids.

Since I knew no sign language, I started borrowing Signing Time videos from the library and watching them with Chelsea. They were great at teaching sign! I learned quickly, and Chelsea liked them too. She started picking up ASL slowly but steadily, and at 2 1/2 years old, knew 9 signs- go, stop, Mom, Dad, more, thank you, please, candy, and water. At 2 years 8 months, Chelsea knew 33 signs, and continued to increase her ASL vocabulary until now at 4 years 10 months, has about 600 words in sign.

We also took Chelsea to a deaf church on and off for about 6 months, and are going to go again soon. We loved it so much because everyone there understands sign, but most were actually not deaf, so could hear and speak as well. Usually, families would have one deaf parent, and so attend that church, but all the other family members are hearing. Chelsea's sunday school teacher would sign and speak at the same time, which is what we do at home, so it was a perfect fit!

Once Chelsea knew all the signs from signing time, I took a couple ASL classes at a community college and tried to go to a few deaf events to pick up more sign. I am by no means fluent, but I know enough to teach my preschooler the words she wants to express. I HIGHLY recommend it!!! ASL is such a fun language, and if you are willing to stick with it and keep on teaching your kiddo, they will surprise you with how much they have to say!

my cake
The only downside to ASL is that few people understand sign, especially since Chelsea has limb dyspraxia and her signs look generalized and are difficult to understand. BUT it was a lot more understandable than her speech!

with candy
Side note: I signed with my typically- functioning (aka "normal") son from the time he was born, and he started signing back at 8-9 months, and did so frequently until he started talking in sentences at about 15 months. He will now translate all of his sister's sign language, but doesn't really use sign language anymore unless I specifically ask for it, or if he thinks someone is not understanding his words and gets frustrated with them (and that is hilarious!)

We also used PECS to help with the communication barrier. (Chelsea didn't say her first word "Mama" until she was 2 years 9 months old).

I started using PECS before I knew what it was. I took pictures of some of Chelsea's favorite things (her brother, blanket, applesauce, read a book, etc), laminated them, and wrote the word on there. I put magnets on the back, and Chelsea would pick one off of the fridge, and hand it to me. Once when her EI speech therapist was over, Chelsea toddled out of the room and came back with her "I want applesauce" card, and the speech therapist introduced me to PECS.

Signs star for starfish

I can't even explain the relief I felt when she was able to communicate what she wanted. Chelsea would cry and cry and I had absolutely no idea what she wanted, so would offer food, drinks, check for a diaper change, check her temperature, give her Tylenol, snuggle her, take her outside, read... I would go through that checklist multiple times a day, desperately trying to meet my child's unspoken needs.

With PECS, she could point to what she wanted so that I could understand her. She progressed to where she would carry around a little binder with about a hundred pictures inside it of things she might ask for, and would flip through the pages and hand a picture to me.

Chelsea signs "book" at the library

PECS was really nice because I would drop her off for about 4 hours a week while I coached gymnastics, and the daycare providers had no idea what she wanted. Once, she was signing please, and they thought she had a tummy ache, so held her over the toilet so she could throw up. I have so many babysitter horror stories... Chelsea stopped PECS once her sign was really picking up around 3 years old, because ASL is so much faster than flipping pages and pulling off cards, and her hands were always accessible.

I think ASL and PECS are great tools for any kid- special needs, typical, gifted, or whatever!

Preschool Day Bubble Theme

·        Outing- I meant to try and do giant bubbles at the park, but it has been super cold, so we couldn't get it to work. Instead, we blew bubbles after a really wet snow. That made the bubbles stick on the snow, so the kids went running through the snow to step on bubbles and loved it!!!

·        Movie- Webby in Bathland (This is a Super Why video about a little penguin who has to get rid of germs by using soap and water)
·        Stories- Bubbles Float Bubbles Pop, The Gum Chewing Rattler, Trouble Gum, Bubble Trouble, Bath Time Bubbles, Pop! (I went to the library, and these were the bubble ones that I found. I wanted to read them the Encyclopedia Brown book where he monitors the bubble blowing contest, but couldn't find it)

·        Songs- “Herman the Worm”, “Bubbles” to the tune of Twinkle- Bubbles floating all around, bubbles fat and bubbles round, bubbles on my toes and nose, blow a bubble- up it goes! Bubbles floating all around, bubbles falling to the ground

·        Letters- Spell bubble and pop. Identify on sight. Trace words. Use correctly in a sentence. For Chelsea, we worked on saying the words correctly, since she has a difficult time with CVC words. She will usually drop the first or last consonant, so it takes a lot of drill for her to get it right.

·        Numbers- “Bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish. How many pieces do you wish?” I had the kids choose a number, then we all take turns clapping until we reach that number, or if kids are a little older, everyone puts in two hands, then whoever’s hand we end the number on has that hand out. C'mon, I know I wasn't the only one who played this in elementary school!

·        Gross Motor- Run and jump on bubble wrap! Poor Chelsea didn't have much body weight to put behind her jumps, so I blew bubble gum bubbles and she clapped them and said "pop!"

·        Snack- Applesauce, milk, and smoothies in tall cups with straws so you can blow bubbles in them! Tip: Use a tall glass only 1/3 or 1/2 full.

·        Science- What is a bubble? Blow bubbles with liquid, and blow bubbles in water with a straw, if possible, blow bubble in freezing cold. We weren't very successful with bubbles in the cold, even though it was 17 degrees when we tried.

·        Colors/ Shapes- All Things Circle!

·        Art- Put beads on a wire to make your own personal bubble wands

·        OT activity- Take a scented colored bubble bath (this was great for Chelsea's sensory input!)

·        Interactive Game- Freeze Dance while bubbles are being blown. My kids couldn't get enough of this! They LOVE freeze dance!

·        Receptive Language- Pop a bubble with your ____ (body parts- nose, elbow, knee, head, lips, etc). I would only do this with a couple kids- not a big group. I tried it with my 10ish kids preschool gymnastics kids and the kids wouldn't look where they were running and would clunk together

·        Breath control- Try to control the bubbles’ flight by blowing it. Have a paper attached to a door that is the target. My almost 3 year old son got this, but Chelsea would mostly spit at the bubbles and liked when her spit popped it.
  • Oral strengthening- try to blow bubble gum bubbles! Show kids bubble inside of bubble, double/ triple bubbles, bubble while rolling a somersault like from Encyclopedia Brown book. For Chelsea, it was just good to have her chomp hard on something- she has some sensory-seeking oral behaviors (like chewing on pebbles) so she loved it and it was great for her!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Preschool Day Beach Theme

We did another preschool day today- Beach theme!!! We did this one last year, and the kids loved it, so we repeated it, since repetition is so good for them! We meant to go to the swimming pool and pretend that it was the beach, but it was snowy and sleeting today, so the kids just pretended to be mermaids and sharks in the bathtub instead, and used bath crayons to draw seaweed and crabs.

·        Movie- We watched the Super Why episodes “Beach Day Mystery” and “Swiss Family Robinson”. Normally, I put subtitles on all the movies they watch so they get a little extra literacy exposure, but not for this show.

·        Stories- Just Grandma and Me, Franklin Goes to the Beach, D.W All Wet, Curious George Goes to the Beach, and Water Animals

·        Songs- Part of Your World, Slippery Fish, and Baby Shark

·        Letters- Rhyme with “Sea”- bee, me, tea, free, plea, knee, P, fee, glee. I also had the kids play the iPad app “Alphabet Aquarium”. It is an app set on a beach where crabs scuttle over with parts of a letter to build, objects that begin with the targeted letter, etc. Here is the link to that app:
·        Numbers- We counted their plastic animals, sorting into “lives in water” and “doesn’t live in water” and seeing which had more and which has less.

·        Gross Motor- Last time, we did this in summer, so did water balloon chase. This time it is super cold, so with played tag with mini beach balls. We would run all around trying to throw and tag other people with a beach ball. I made sure to scatter large objects around that the kids had to climb over or run around. It helps Chelsea gain exposure to wider variety of motor plans, and she has to really think about what to do next

·        Snack- This was my favorite part! We made a beach scene to eat! We had rice krispie treats as sand next to blue jello for water with Swedish fish, with an airhead extreme (towel) laid out and a teddy graham on top with mini umbrella. HOW CUTE!!!! I wanted to put more teddy grahams in Peachie-Os floating on the Jello, but that just seemed like way too much sugar all at once. This is a picture from pinterest that I used as my example

·        Science- Sweet/ sour/ salty – taste “ocean” salt water and sour lemon juice, and sweet sugar water versus regular water! Work on labeling each flavor and associating tastes. My little guy was fascinated how things that look the same taste different

·        Colors/ Shapes- Use modeling clay or playdough to shape shapes and animals. Discuss colors and shapes, and try to make sea creature animals. We aren’t artists here, but we tried to make Ursula. Chelsea then freaked out and squashed her, haha.

·        Art- Ocean in a Bottle- use old peanut butter jars (or glass if you think it won’t get broken) and put in sand, rocks, plastic sea creatures, and water. I recommend either pouring water in very slowly, or putting water in first. Otherwise you end up with a beach-hit-by-a-hurricane scene!

·        OT activity- Use kinetic sand for sensory input. Mold, cut and shape it. This is one of Chelsea’s very favorite sensory activities, but she usually wants to explore the sand at some point with her mouth, so I have to watch close to make sure she is being safe.

·        Interactive Game- Beach ball towel volleyball and catch with beach ball. This was good for Chelsea’s response time and motor planning, but it mostly ended up with playing catch with the beach ball, which is also really good, because Miss C struggles with throwing and catching.

·        Vocabulary- beach, sand, gritty, water, frigid, beach ball, volleyball. We worked on saying these and remembering definitions (for son) and doing the signs for them (Chelsea), attempting those words, and identifying them by pictures.

·        Receptive Language- Play “I Spy”! Give clues about what I see/ am thinking of, and have the kids guess, then switch roles. We used the beach vocabulary page. It is an awesome activity for reasoning and sorting through things in your mind, and Chelsea has finally started getting this, after more than a year of practice!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Working Memory Games

In the summer of 2015, I was able to attend the national Apraxia conference. During the conference, my favorite lecture was given by Lynn Carahaly on the topic of working memory. The brain has always fascinated me, and thinking about thought is mesmerizing! Anyway, here is a combination of the games I do with my kids to work on memory and some suggestions that were given during the lecture.

Working Memory Games

The idea for all these games is to practice using memory. The more we do this, the better our memory is. Working memory is the ability a person has to hold a set of information in your mind, and manipulate the data in that information.

For example, I say “3BH6F2X”. Now cover that up, and just think about it. What are all the numbers in the order I gave them? What were all the letters? Alphabetically? In reverse order? The ability to do that is “working memory”. There are tons of games to play that help improve this! Just like a muscle, it needs to be exercised and the ability strengthened.

Memory- Okay, duh! The little game Memory, and you play with your child. I intentionally think out loud so that they learn the thought process of remembering, like, “Hm, I think that the dinosaur was right there, and I know this one is a sandwich and that one is a dolly, so I won’t choose those because it wouldn’t be a match. I think that the other dinosaur will be here!”

Invisible Tic Tac Toe- This one is obviously for a little older of kids- ones that already know how to play tic tac toe. I would say “I choose the middle! O!” and my partner says, “I put X on the top right corner” and I say “I pick the bottom right corner” and so on until you have a winner. This is a great game for the car!

Digispan- This is the example from above. Give a random string of numbers and letters, and have the child repeat it back to you, forwards or backwards. Start with small quantities and increase from there! So with my SATB2 girly, I do 2-4, and with my son, I do 7-8.

Bag Remembering- We have done this in different boxes, under towels, and in bags and stockings, geared toward our themed learning days. Get several items, show them to the kids, then hide it in the bag and ask them to guess what was there. Especially if it was something highly motivating for that child, they are eager to remember. For my son, I put in things like his action figure knights, a dragon, a little sword and shield, etc. Once he is able to remember all the items, we play together. Same with my daughter, and I usually use different princesses, dress-up items, etc. that motivate her.

Raise Your Hand- For this game, tell the kids to remember a word (or several words) and say, “Okay, when I saw elephant, raise your hand!” then tell a story about an elephant. As they become adept at this, move up and say “Now when you hear the words monkey or water, raise your hand!” For older kids, use more common words that get overlooked like “and”, “then”, or “it”.

Mental Arithmetic- Again, this is for a little older of kids. Just give a word problem. The child then has to figure out what is being asked, decode the correct numbers, and then crunch the numbers correctly.

Response Set- For this game, have four colored circles. Start with “When I say red, touch red. When I say green, touch green. Black is black, and yellow is yellow”. Easy, right? Then switch it up and say “Now when I say red, touch black. When I say black, touch red. Yellow is still yellow, and green is still green.” Continue to switch up the colors named with colors touched, and can add more colors if desired.

Nonsense Words- For a younger kid, say a couple nonsense words “blurple” or “flibt” and have them repeat it back to you, or rhyme them, etc. For an older child, give them another nonsense word and ask which letter in that word would come first? Second? Last?

Rapid Fire Memory- See how many of a category you can name in amount of time. So, how many animals can you name in a minute?

Compare and Contrast- Pick two objects and ask, "So, how are a teepee and igloo similar? Different? What about a car and a bicycle?"

Naming Game- Just like categories from the Car Games post, but this time we name everything that has been said. So if the category was “Things in the Forest”, I would say bear, then Chelsea says trees and bear, then Ryan says wolf and trees and bear. So on and so forth.

Silly Pizza Song- If anyone is similar with the Signing Time “Silly Pizza Song”, you know what I am talking about. If not, look it up really quick. We sing this in the car all the time, but adapt it to be our own, and it is pretty much the same thing as the naming game. So I will sing “I like peppers on my pizza, I like pepper pizza please. Put the peppers on the pizza, don’t forget the extra cheese”. Then Chelsea picks princesses (my kids love singing about eating non-edibles), so we sing, “I like princesses on my pizza, I like princess pizza please. Put the princesses on the peppers, put the peppers on the pizza, don’t forget the extra cheese!”

There are tons of fun memory games for kids that can be found on pinterest and many other sites- they are so good for brain development! Happy learning!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

SATB2 Meeting With Geneticist

We had our genetic consultation in Salt Lake City today. When Chelsea got her testing done in November through December 2015, I kept calling and calling her neurologist until he just sent me the results to keep me quiet. So to summarize: Chelsea has a 141,000 gene pair deletion from the 2nd chromosome, on the long (q) arm at the band 33.1 (said three three point one, not thirty three point one). That sound like a lot, but is actually super tiny. She doesn’t have a full deletion of the SATB2 or SATB2-AS1 genes, but enough to make them non-functional.

Chelsea has some facial features that are consistent with
other kids with SATB2 Associated Syndrome. She has a prominent forehead, wider set eyes, high palate, and a slender, long face. She also has some gaps in her teeth. The geneticist said that she is most likely have missing/ enlarged teeth when her adult teeth come in. Since she is still so little, she only has baby teeth.

The one thing that completely floored the geneticist was Chelsea’s verbal abilities. She has at least 125 words that she can speak well enough for me (Mom) to understand, and when we pair her ASL signing with verbal approximations, the number goes up to over 600 words that she can communicate. She also knows her letters, numbers, and colors, can write a couple letters and draw happy faces. After meeting with her, the geneticist was interested in sharing her story at a genetics conference, which was cool.

SATB2 Associated Syndrome commonly presents with several different features, like the facial abnormalities I previously described, as well as a cleft or high palate, profound expressive language difficulties, receptive language problems, slower cognitive functioning (I don’t like using the R word), and poor coordination.

We had a CMA test done, which stands for Chromosomal Microarray Analysis. The way the geneticist described it, the test is like getting an encyclopedia and looking to see if there are any pages missing, but not necessary checking the spelling on each word on each page.

Anyway, here are some of the questions I asked during our visit, and summarized answers that the geneticist gave. He did ask if I heard anything contrary to these answers to please let them know.

Are seizures common for SATB2 kids?
From what we have gathered from such a small research group, yes. Subclinical seizures are often common for these individuals, but frequently go undiagnosed and untreated, since the person isn’t having convulsions.

Are there any heart defects often associated with SATB2?

Are there any specific dietary or nutritional needs that this syndrome would necessitate?

What kind of research is being done on SATB2 Associated Syndrome?
Right now, researchers are just trying to gather a database of people so that we can begin studying this. Because it is so new and so rare, it is difficult to study. We can’t just pull a random group of 100 individuals to do a long-term study with because there aren’t near that many. Not all kids with genetic disorders get diagnosed, and the ones who come up on the radar as having problems are frequently labeled as autistic without getting a genetic test. Once we do have more test subjects, we will be able to conduct more long-term studies, test for high-functioning variants of the syndrome, etc.

(Update #1: There is a study that started collecting data in March 2016)

(Update #2: As of November 2016, there is a new study about SATB2 Associated Syndrome, published by the syndrome's leading expert Yuri Zarate! Here is the link!)

Is this hereditary?
No. This was a random deletion and either you or your husband would have had to have the deletion to pass it on. If Chelsea ever goes on to have children, they will have a 50/ 50 chance of having the same condition.

Will her condition improve, stay the same, or worsen over time?
She will still be able to learn new things, but her condition will remain stable, neither improving or worsening.

What is the long-term prognosis for SATB2 Associated Syndrome?
Usually, the kids with SATB2 have very little or no speech, and will never be able to live on their own. However, since there are so few people who have this, it has been very difficult to study these individuals long term. Chelsea has a lot of language and will most likely continue to progress, so there is no definite answer.

I read that SATB2 is a common marker when people are being tested for osteosarcoma (bone cancer). How would Chelsea be able to be checked if that ever became an issue?
There are other markers that doctors can check for. SATB2 is just one of many.

Do these kids have a normal lifespan?
From what we can tell, yes. The oldest person we are aware of is 31.

What kind of therapy do you recommend?
Continuing with speech, occupational, and physical therapy. She has made remarkable progress in the 3-4 years you have done therapy with her, and I recommend to keep on doing exactly what you are doing. Make sure it is Chelsea based- focus on what her strengths are and what she is successful at in high quantities, and also hit some of the areas where she really struggles as well.

She had an MRI when she was 2 that came back clean; is there any reason to get a second MRI once she is a little older?

No, not unless you see things like regression of skills, constant headaches, or something that would indicate tumor growth.

That is about all! It was a great day! Just one last thing, here is a link to my favorite website that talks about SATB2, created by the geneticist that is working with our SATB2 kids!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Basics of IEPs

What is an IEP?

An IEP stands for an Individualized Education Program. Special education law states that any child with a disability is guaranteed an "appropriate" education at public expense. Your IEP will consist of a few different parts.

1. There will be a PLAFP (Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance- some schools call is something slightly different). This will say where your child is performing in various areas like communication, fine motor, gross motor, social skills, academic, self-help, etc.

2. Goals! These are annual goals (if you agree to the "pilot 3 year IEP" program, I may personally come knock some sense into you) in each category that are things your child needs to improve on. The goal could be about CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant like Bob or hat), or playing with a peer for x amount of time, or about reading levels. Whatever your child needs to work on, put in there! There is no limit, and you are the NUMBER ONE person on your child's team. Give input!

3. Related Services. This will describe the services your child is receiving. My 4 year old daughter's IEP says that she will receive 4 days of the special preschool weekly, 30 minutes 1:1 occupational therapy weekly, 70 minutes 1:1 speech therapy weekly, and 30 minutes adapted physical education weekly in a group setting. Transportation is required to be offered by law to special needs students, but I don't use it because we live 3 doors down from her school.

4. There is also area in the IEP for things like staff training, parent training, behavior plans, assistive technology, placement decisions, and ESY (extended school year).

5. You can ALWAYS add a parent addendum to the IEP. This could be a transcript of the meeting, your notes, letters to the school, etc. Few parents use this, but it is wonderful for creating a paper trail for any disputes you may have with the school. And believe me, if you are a strong advocate, there will be disputes.

Who is on the IEP Team?

1. YOU!!!! You are the most important person on your child's team! No one knows your child as well as you do! Your input, concerns, and desires should always be voiced. Also, make sure to bring support with you- a spouse, friend, a scary guy to take notes and intimidate people... Whatever doctors your pepper! No matter how prepared you are, it will be emotionally exhausting and taxing.

2. Your child's teacher(s). Any of your child's teachers/ aides can be invited to give input, and the teachers I have run into are genuine and care about each student. They will be forming goals for academics/ their subject. 

3. The LEA representative. This means the Local Education Agency (school district) representative. In my experience, these are the gatekeepers. The guardians of the district's resources. The ones who say NO when you want something. This will most likely be the principal at an elementary school, or else an assistant principal at a junior high/ high school. They are supposed to be trained in special ed law, but often are not and say no without really considering the matter. But that has just been my experience

4. Specialists. This could be the vision therapist, physical therapist, APE teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, hearing specialist... The list goes on and on. They each help you to draw up goals for their own fields of work pertaining to your child.

5. Anyone you invite who has information that would help your child. Private SLP? Great! Neuropsychologist that wants to phone in to deliver his/ her evaluation? Bring it on!

What Should I do to Prepare for an IEP?
1. What I have found most helpful is to print off your own agenda. I make mine very simple in chart form. I have three columns- (1) What We Want (2) School's Response (3) Resolved? This helps me remember all the points I want to address, and keep me on track for when someone tries to sidetrack to side step the issue. The school will have their own agenda, which is fine. I usually let them say their bit, then say mine.

2. Especially if this is your very first IEP meeting or you have new team members, make them a folder!!! I do an "All About Me" page first- that tells about Chelsea's likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and a couple tips for working with her. I also put in a page or two about her disabilities, with information about each one, good techniques for working with it, and links for where they can find more information. I also put in my contact info with a plea for them to please, please, please contact me if they ever have any questions or comments.

3. Decide on how you will communicate with your child's team! Do you want weekly emails, are you satisfied with the 6 week progress reports, talk after school? For my daughter, I have notebooks that I send with her each day for her teachers/ therapists to write in. They record what they worked on, how she behaved during their time with her, tips for what to do at home, etc. This works well for me since Chelsea can't tell me what happened at school, and I want to know! Voice this at the meeting, and decide on how best to communicate. Ongoing communication is crucial to success!

4. Study, study, study special education law. I personally LOVE the Wrightslaw books (no, I don't have any financial ties to them- I just love them). Pete Wright is the author and he had ADHD and dyslexia growing up, and was told by multiple teachers that the most he could hope for was a high school diploma; college would be crazy. Long story short, he ended up a very successful special ed lawyer and won a case in front of the supreme court. The 3 best are: Special Ed Law Edition 2, Emotions to Advocacy, and All About IEPs. If you are ever able to, go to one of his workshops. He does IEP workshops- 10ish hours of him telling you which laws are most important and why and how to advocate. I went to one, and it was the best money I ever spent!!!!!!

I will be blogging more about IEPs, because I feel like I live and breathe them! I want parents to be strong advocates for their children! To the parents of non-verbal kids: Your child has no speech; the only voice they have is yours. Make it count!

Preschool Day Mammoth Theme

This was a really fun day for the kids! I  try to do these days as often as possible, at least 2-3 times/ week, and dedicated reading and learning time daily.

·        Outing- Dinosaur Museum, look at caveman and mammoth exhibit. Draw attention to how the cavemen use different parts of the mammoth; bones for housing and tools, skin for clothes, blankets, and housing, meat to eat, etc.

·        Movie- Ice Age
·        Stories- Sunset with Sabertooth (after the movie), Mammoth and Me, Life with a Mammoth

·        Letters- Hang sight words from ceiling/ doorway with streamers. Child can either grab a word and read it or else grab the sight word that you call out.

·        Numbers- How many tusks does a mammoth have? How many legs? How many tails?

·        Gross Motor- Pretend to be riding a mammoth (balance on Mom crawling on all fours). Let kids hold something like a spear, and make sure to rock a little so kids have to work on core balance

·        Snack- Do some pit cooking- experiment with foods cavemen might have eaten like meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc

·        Science- What did cavemen do? Find out what they would have done in their everyday life

·        Shapes- Pattern magnetic hexagons and squares (or other shapes) into a cave entrance

·        Art- Glue yarn onto pictures of mammoths (This one was their favorite activity, and it was awesome for them to practice cutting and gluing. It made a gigantic mess, but the kids loved it!) 

·        OT activity- Push yoga ball through lycra tunnel (rock through mountain tunnel)

·        Interactive Game- Play caveman hunting the mammoth (hide and seek)

·        Vocabulary- mammoth, caveman, hunt, spear

·        Receptive Language- Spear length- bigger/ smaller/ same size- Use legos to make “spears” of various sizes, and have kids look at which one is biggest, smallest, same size, half the size of another, etc

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Speech Games in the Car

If your family is like ours, especially if you have a special needs kiddo, you probably spend a lot of time in the car, driving from therapist to doctor to therapist! I try to use the time in the car as productively as possible, since the kids want to talk, and it is easy for them to focus, since they are confined to car seats! These are our favorite games in the car.

I think most people have played categories, but in case anyone hasn't: choose a category, then everyone takes a turn thinking of something until we can't think of any more. I have to help Chelsea think of some. I give her clues like "maybe something that is big, grey with big ears and a long trunk and lives in Africa". That is doubly helpful, because then she is working on her receptive language and deduction skills in addition to her expressive language by saying it.

Categories Car Game
Clothing types
Things in a garden
Things with Protein
Musical Instruments
Things in the sky
Things at a park
Things with wheels
Things in a house
Things in a city
Things in a country
Things on a hike
Body Parts
What is something ­color?
I Spy
Again, everyone has played this, and it is great for playing in the car!
Name That Singer
This next game is Chelsea's very, very favorite game and she always begs to play this one. I sing a line from a song (usually Disney princess-y) the kids know, and have them guess the singer/ movie/ play where we heard it. I also drew pictures of folksy songs and put them in sheet protectors and put them on rings so the kids can flip through and pick songs that they want to sing with me. We like singing!
A dream is a wish
Someday my prince will come
I know you, I walked with you
Little town, it’s a quiet village
So this is love
I can’t belive I’m stuck with her all summer
Cinderelly, cinderelly
Part of Your World
Let It Go
Reindeers are better than people
First Time in Forever
Do you want to build a snowman
Summer (bees, they’ll buzz)
Love is an open  door
Far Longer than forever
Robin and Little John walking through the forest
Once there was the sun
That’s what you do for a friend
Super Readers- who looks into books
When somebody loved me
You’ve got a friend in me
I will be your wings
We are Siamese if you please
This is the night, and they call it a night…
Feed the birds
It’s a Jolly holiday with Mary
We also tell lots of stories in the car. We make up long stories that can take a month to tell, which is fun, because then the kids have to think about what happened last time and tell me what they think will happen, and tell me about how they feel about the story, or what different characters in the story are feeling. I also tell familiar stories and have the kids try to tell it back to me. Chelsea is still working on learning how to do this.
Snow White
3 Foolish Wishes
Ugly Duckling
Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
3 Billy Goats Gruff
King Midas
Peter Pan
Little Red Riding Hood
3 Little Pigs/ Wolves
The Princess and the Pea
Jack and Beanstalk
12 Dancing Princesses
Sleeping Beauty
Puss in Boots
Beauty and the Beast
The Little Mermaid
The Frog Prince
The Little Red Hen
Tom Thumb
Hop ‘o’ my Thumb
Hansel and Gretel
Devil’s 3 Golden Hairs
Stories about the kids
Stories about when Mommy and Daddy were little