Early Intervention and Home Practice

Early Intervention…
Do it now…
The sooner the better…
Practice and do therapy skills every day at home too!

Yes…but does it really pay off in the end?

Don’t take my word for it…listen carefully to the words of a parent who has been there and walked the path that many of you may be on today. I happened to be on a listserv recently where a mother responded with some advice. She was replying to another mother seeking information, who desperately wanted to know what her next steps should be (her child had a stroke a birth and was diagnosed with apraxia). I contacted her and she gave me permission to share her writing.

Melanie McGriff, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

From a Mother’s Heart and Experience…

You say your son had a stroke at birth. Does he have dysarthria along with apraxia? Does he have low muscle tone globally? (Dysarthria is a result of stroke and I believe my son may have had one as well as he does have dysarthria comorbid with his apraxia. I am beginning to think this is common as many seem to have this)

If yes, then I would say that it is essential you begin to work his muscle tone. Since my son had speech therapy for well over 12 LONG, LONG years…. if I could do it again, I would learn the therapy and do it daily. My son finally got better when I began doing therapy [activities] with him throughout the day…. every day.

Then, I would begin working muscle tone, body core and the hands. The one item we never recovered was my boys’ hands and he will never write as he should. I started too, too late. But…. If I could go back to age 3….. WELL…. a DO-OVER? I would build the absolute BEST playground I could afford in my backyard and use it every single day. Brachiation [arm swinging]/(monkey bars) is very important for our kids. It works cortical grasp, neck strength, hand strength, body core and rhythm (you need rhythm if you are going to get across successfully).

I would do LOTS of hand/eye fun games (i.e., Blow up a balloon and give your boy a badminton racquet (you too) and I would bat that thing back and forth). Start working those low toned eyes very, very young!

Exercise is key for kids with low tone…. exercise of the mouth, the lips, the tongue, the jaw, the eyes, the bowels (eeeeew…. really? YES! Buy some L-carnitine for low toned kids. Low tone also translates into low motility so you’ll find some kids with problems potty training. They have sensory issues and cannot ‘feel’).

You name it, low toned kids struggle with it. The wonderful thing is, they learn. They can get better. Start with small simple tasks…. Don’t throw the ball back and forth…. pass it first and get the eyes used to transitioning back and forth. Throwing comes much later! (but it does come).

Buy a trampoline. It ‘wakes up’ the body! Or if you’re rich or live in the country, the best exercise for low toned kids is horse-back riding [or consider hippotherapy (therapy on horse-back)]. It exercises every single muscle in the body and eradicates low tone like nothing else. (Again…. if I could go back, my kid would’ve had a pony at 5!)

The best therapy my boy ever had came from another extremely athletic boy he was best friends with since early childhood. Today, that kid is the captain of the high school football team and is the quarterback! My son ran, played, learned how to throw a football and worked his butt to keep up with that kid and I never spent a dime! LOL! They biked together, swam together, and skied together. Now…. my boy will never be a football star, a hockey star or a champion anywhere but on the chessboard. But he is smart. I am proud to say that on Sunday, my beloved Mark had his first play performed at our festival of young high school/university writers. I am so proud of who he is becoming. Talent takes many forms….. sometimes you just have to wait for it! So many years of therapy, struggle and endurance serves to make our kids special, unique and unwaveringly strong!

This is not an easy journey but one in which your child could surpass the average. Our kids are NOT average…they are incredible! (Ask Daniel Radcliffe, he, too, has dyspraxia!)

Mother of Mark, (now 18 years old)

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