Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kaufman Center Experience

Before we had Chelsea’s genetic diagnosis, all we had to go off of was her Apraxia diagnosis, and I am SO glad we pushed for that! Apraxia trained speech therapists have helped Chelsea so much! I decided to take Chelsea to the Kaufman Children’s Center just outside of Detroit, Michigan.


The children’s center offers 4 day intensive speech camps with Nancy Kaufman. The wait list at that time was several months, but we got on it, and in May of 2015, Chelsea and I flew out for the camp.

The basic layout of the week is on Monday, you have a speech evaluation. Tuesday and Wednesday, you have 2 speech sessions. Thursday is the parent consultation. There is the option to get more speech sessions, and we did 3 extra sessions. We also elected to do occupational therapy as well- an evaluation on Monday, and sessions whenever you want them.

The Pros:

Nancy Kaufman knows her stuff! She recommended genetic testing almost immediately after seeing Chelsea, and what do you know, she was right! She is one of the TOP Apraxia experts worldwide and she gave multiple devoted hours to just Little Miss Chelsea. I’ve listened to some of her lectures at Apraxia conferences, and she is amazing!

You get a video record of every minute your child spends with Nancy Kaufman, and during the sessions, she will talk to the camera about how to work with your child so you can hand off custom made training videos to your SLP at home!

YOU learn how to work with your child! During the last few sessions, Nancy had me (the parent) come into the room and helped me work with Chelsea and critiqued me on what I was doing right and what I needed to improve. (And this lady doesn’t sugar coat anything- she tells is straight, which I LOVED)

There are OT specialists there who work with kids with global Apraxia all the time. They know just what to do, and their OT room is AMAZING!!! I got tons of handouts, videos, and information from them!

The children’s center gets you good deals on hotels! Chelsea and I were upgraded for free from a small room to a double bed king size room when we said we were visiting them. Sweet! I think we saved about $250 there!

There is a really cute zoo in Detroit that I took Chelsea to on Friday morning before we left as a prize for working so hard. She loved it and it was lots of fun!


The Cons:

Holy guacamole is this expensive! The speech evaluation (1 ½ hours) was $300, OT evaluation (2 hours) was $400, each half hour speech session was $85, and each half hour OT session is $70. The final speech parent consultation (1 hour) is $170. We paid a grand total of $1255, plus airfare, hotel, car rental, and food. (I did get a grant from to pay for speech and occupational therapy that year, so that was how we managed it. Great grant!!!)

This will exhaust you. Chelsea was wiped out after each speech session, and once I went in and Nancy Kaufman was critiquing me, I saw why! She is a very intense person, which I like, but several other people there said she was very intimidating.
Chelsea zonking out right when we got back to the hotel room!

There is a lot of down time. I liked having all her sessions before lunch, then going to a museum or park or something to relax after that. I didn’t expect that, which is why I put it as a con. I had anticipated 4 intense days 9-5 at the clinic, but that wasn’t the case.


Overall, I LOVED going to the Kaufman Children's Center! I’m hoping to take Chelsea again in a couple years (when we save up some, haha). What I liked most was:

1) THE VIDEOS!!! I love, love, love those videos we got! I have generalized Apraxia training videos, but not all the tips in them apply to Chelsea. The videos I got were tailor made for Chelsea and her specific needs. I wish I was more tech savvy so I could cut some and show them here!
2) Having a week of just me and Chelsea. We had so much fun together, and she was so happy to work on speech when I had all this time and energy for just her.
3) Learning SO MUCH about Apraxia and how to work with Chelsea!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Preschool Day Cowboy Theme

This is always one of my favorite theme days- partially because I am from Texas, and partially because it is just so fun! Who doesn't love a good cowboy story? I love pretending to be cowboys with the kids and trying to find the varmint who has been poisoning the watering hole, or whatever other plot we think up! 

·        Outing- Ride horses

·        Movie- Toy Story or Jasper’s Cowboy Wish

·        Stories- Bubba the Cowboy Prince, Cowboy Camp, Saving Sweetness


·        Songs- I’m a Little Cowboy, One Little Two Little Three Little Cowboys

·        Letters- Make a large foam cube with cowboy “gear” (hat, spurs, boots, rope, chaps, vest), and roll it. You then have to guess what letter that sound starts with

·        Numbers- Count spots on your cattle (use plastic animals or pictures)

·        Gross Motor Game- Use a hula hoop to “rope” a cow or hunt a villainous bandit on a walk around the block

·        Snack- Cactus blossoms (raspberries), Cowboy trail mix (nuts, raisins, M&M, pretzels)

·        Science- Pan for gold

·        Color/ Shape- Name colors for cowboy gear as we dress them up! (or use Barbie cowgirl)

·        Art- Paint sandpaper cactuses green

·        Interactive Game- Ride rocking horse, play cowgirl barbies, ride Mommy horse and say Giddyup (also good for balance!)

·        OT activity- Write our names and trace cowboy words

·        Vocab/ Phrases words- cowboys, pistol, holster, sheriff, posse, bandit

·        Receptive Language- Dress the cowboy! Have a paper cowboy (or just a man) printed off, and cutouts of cowboys clothing. Have the kids take turns matching the clothing part to where it goes on the cowboy. Also have the kids say what clothes they have on that part of their body (so cowboy is wearing chaps, I have a skirt. Cowboy has a vest, I have a shirt)

Potty Training: Final Steps

The last blog was on the first 3 days of potty training. From here on out, it gets easier time-wise!

Day 4: Take child potty every 10 minutes and every time they ask. That means we try potty, then start the timer just as we finish.

Day 5: Take child potty every 15 minutes and every time they ask.

Day 6: Take child potty every 20 minutes and every time they ask.

Day 7+: Take child when they ask to go potty.

If they don't recognize the potty signs by now, then stop at every 20 minutes and continue to do that until they get it. Days 4 and 5 were the WORST for us potty training! It seemed that any time we tried potty, she would have an accident about 1 minute after an attempt. So. Much. Laundry.

The goal here is to still keep a 100% positive attitude, with no negative reactions to accidents. Keep any reaction to an accident neutral (quietly clean it up), and then praise and reward attempts at potty-ing. 

Honestly, I am a pretty positive person by nature, and I struggled a lot! I called my dad and sister and cried to them and said it was too hard. But they both told me to not give up, and to remember how much we had already done. That was the biggest motivator for me not throwing in the towel- I didn't want to have to repeat those 3 days of living in the bathroom!

Note: If your child is on seizure medication, MAKE SURE they aren't late on any doses or miss any. Any time we were late and the two times we missed (in the 2 months since starting potty training), those times corresponded exactly with the days that she had multiple accidents.

Note #2: The thing that helped CHelsea most to understand the concept of going potty was pouring warm (not cool, not hot, not cold) water over her to give the sensation of peeing.

Note #3: No pull-ups in the house! Yes there will be accidents. And messes. But pull-ups are too much of a regression when worn all the time. We did use them on some outings though, but she usually keeps them dry.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Potty Training: The First 3 Days

I based what I did of the RTT (Rapid Toilet Training) method. It is a very intense method, geared mainly for children with developmental delays or autism.

The first 3 days the most involved part, because you stay in the bathroom the whole day, except for 5 minute walks. Hopefully any other kids are shipped off to family, because you will have absolutely zero time for them.

Most of the first day, we spent with Chelsea sitting on the potty (only dressed waist up). She would sit for 30 minutes, then have a 5 minute break. Once she went in the potty, she got a break right away, plus a prize and lots of praise, singing, the whole 9 yards.

Once she was successful, we moved to sitting for 25 minutes with a 10 minute break, and so on down to sitting for 15 minutes. But I kept the breaks at 5-10 minutes because she was peeing a LOT (remember those drinks and salty snacks?) when we had any longer of breaks.
All the Potty Activities we did were geared so that they could all be done sitting down on the potty and be so motivating that Chelsea would want to continue sitting.

During breaks, Chelsea would start to pee, so I would hurry her onto the potty, and if a single drop of pee got in before she finished, I counted it as a success.

The goal here is 100% positive attention! If there is an accident, give a neutral reaction- "Pee-pee goes in the potty" in a neutral voice, and clean it up silently. Then go back to very positive interactions with sitting and going on the potty.

  • Either get a tight shirt (really, really tight) or a baggy shirt that you tie tight around your kiddo's middle. Two goals here: first- this helps them feel what is going on inside better, and second- it helps to not have that little bottom covered at all. You will be watching that rear end nonstop on their breaks from sitting
  • The goal for the first day was for Chelsea to recognize that she was peeing when she was going by me labeling
  • The goal for the second day was for Chelsea to label that she was going potty before she was done
  • The goal for the third day was for Chelsea to label that she was going potty as she is starting to go potty
  • Mentally prepare yourself. The days will be looooooong
  • Record everything! Even on really difficult days, it was nice to see that Chelsea's success percentage was increasing over time

Potty Training: Activities

This is a list of all the activities we did. I kept a log and every 15 minutes, changed up the activity, unless she was really enjoying it, which I put in the “favorites”. I also tried to do lots of activities that involved blowing on something, because that uses the same muscles as going potty! We also saw "Potty Time" once or twice a day.


  • Princess Themed Memory Game
  • Magnetic Princess Dress-up (Ariel, Elsa, Anna, Belle, Cinderella each had 15 minutes)
  • Reading books, especially potty books!
  • Melissa and Doug Princess puffy reusable sticker castle set
  • Using flashlight to find speech target words

Other fun activities:
  • Build a straw and blow bubbles in drinks
  • Paint nails
  • Do hair
  • Blow up balloons
  • Hanger ABC game- ABCs written on clothespins, and we clip the pins onto a hanger in order, or spell words

  • Sing princess songs
  • Use party blower/ noisemakers
  • Scratch off drawings
  • String beads to make a princess bracelet
  • Craft stick name puzzle match

  • Silly String Sensory Play
  • Princess coloring book
  • Princess flash cards
  • What can we do with an expandable tube? (Make a crown, play telephone, expand and compress, play basketball, etc)

  • Dance party to celebrate potty success!
  • Stick stickers on paper! (Works that fine motor!)
  • Puzzles, either by themselves or in a sensory bin
  • What Am I thinking of? (I had a list of 100 of Chelsea’s favorite things- characters, foods, sports, activities, etc. and would give clues)
  • Cutting activities! I had different papers with a variety of lines, and had Chelsea try to cut on the lines

  • Paint in a bag! This was super fun! Put a few globs of paint on a paper, then slide the paper into a gallon Ziploc bag. Painting without any mess!
  • What is the sign for ____?
  • Shine flashlight- can you find Mommy’s/ Chelsea’s elbow? Knee? Chin? Etc