Speech-EZ Review and Giveaway

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This time last year, Gia was beginning her first year of priority preschool. We started that school year with a daughter who had a severe and unexplained speech delay. Just 3 months later, we had a daughter with Apraxia. It’s because of Gia’s priority preschool speech therapist, Shannon, that we are finally getting her the help she needs. Shannon couldn’t help Gia with her Apraxia, but she spotted the speech disorder, and I will forever be grateful for that.

Shannon referred us to a local facility called the Foundations Developmental House (FDH), who had one of the few Apraxia-specific programs in the state. She assured us that we were in good hands.

We left the meeting in shock, but hopeful. That same night, and for many nights to follow, I did what worried moms do best – I researched. What is Apraxia? How do we treat it? Is there hope for my daughter? Much to my relief, all of my answers lied at the Foundations Developmental House, and a nationally recognized Speech and Language Pathologist, named Lynn Carahly. Lynn is not only the owner and director of FDH, but she is the developer of the Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program.

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Lynn Carahaly, M.A., CCC-SLP

Gia was making little to no progress in traditional speech therapy. So what makes Lynn’s program different? The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program simultaneously tackles both the neurological and motor issues that define Apraxia. Specific techniques are implemented in order to build the neurological pathways needed for proper motor planning, which is key to intelligible communication. It’s a step-by-step process of using multisensory strategies to teach the child the correct movement sequences for speech.

Shannon was right, we were in good hands, and in November of 2014, we were officially a part of the The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program. One day at a time, the well-trained and highly-skilled therapists at FDH are making a difference in Gia’s life.

Follow-up at home is an essential part of your child’s success. It really does take a village! However, implementing practices at home is sometimes easier said than done. When I heard about the latest version of the Speech-EZ Apraxia Picture Sound Cards app (APSC), I knew it was exactly what Gia and I needed. I knew she would take my attempts at helping her more seriously if my follow-up was more consistent with her therapy sessions.

My review of the Apraxia Picture Sound Cards app

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Included features of the app:

•FULL Speech-EZ® manual with print capabilities
•Session Data visible to BOTH parent and SLP
•Ability to customize and save/edit card sets and share to Homework file for parent home practice
•Greatly improved, sophisticated data collection and analytics
•Goals for CAS, Phonological Processes and more can be hand selected and customized from goal bank, saved to child’s profile, and shared with parent
•Over 1000 stimulus cards
•Sort by Vowel feature
•Sort by CV and VC feature
•Voice recording and playback
•Improved sort and shuffle abilities
•More control in settings such as start with back of card for reading

My top 3 features of the app:

1. Therapist/parent sharing technology:

11731711_10153412491985365_8551217957767990245_oThis is my favorite thing about the updated version. If the SLP has the Pro version, and the parent has the Parent version, SLP and parent can communicate between devices. The SLP can create customized stimulus homework sets and “share” directly to the parent’s app. This is something I can’t wait to get started on! Working toward common goals with your child’s SLP is crucial. This gives you and your therapist the ability to communicate those goals in ways you would have never dreamed were possible.

2. Voice Recording:

11117968_10153412510785365_9215212706482903445_oI loved having the ability to record and playback my sessions with Gia. It’s a great reference tool, and the playback sounds perfectly clear. With so many goals in mind, there’s so many reasons to listen back on your session. I found it was most helpful to really listen for the sounds that Gia was struggling with. I could then use that information when preparing for our next session, and plan accordingly.

3. Sorting Sounds:

11741125_10153412495305365_2713987462298234876_oDepending on your child’s individualized goals, you can select the appropriate sound combinations that you’re working toward mastering with your SLP. This goes back to the importance of communication with your SLP, and the benefit of the new therapist/parent sharing technology. Every possible combination of sounds is featured in the app, so every child at every level is covered. You can completely customize your sessions to be exactly what your child needs – nothing more, nothing less.

My take on the app:

My experience with the app has been nothing short of positive! It’s a total original, and unlike any speech app out there. Children with Apraxia get the most benefit from daily therapy, but daily therapy is unrealistic for most families. This app gives us as parents the tools to provide therapy in between sessions, and in our very own home. How cool is that? I needed the structure and Gia needed the consistency, and the Speech-EZ app provides both. The work is done for you, and beyond that, it just takes your commitment. I would definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with the app before starting a session with your child. Like with anything, there’s an initial learning curve, but once you get in there and navigate through it a bit, you’ll find that it’s very user-friendly.

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My very first “What Would Gia Say?” GIVEAWAY starts today! From now until August 6th, you can register to win the latest version of the Speech-EZ Apraxia Picture Sound Cards App! Winner of the GIVEAWAY will receive the Parent app ($179 value) AND a Pro app ($299 value) for your SLP!

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TO REGISTER FOR THE GIVEAWAY:
♦ You’ll have to complete at least one of the actions listed below. Earn bonus entries, and increase your chances of winning, by completing more than one of the actions.
1.   Sign up to follow my blog at the top of the page.
2.   Leave a comment about your child with Apraxia.
3.   Click “Like” on my “What Would Gia Say?” Facebook page.
4.   Share the Giveaway, and let me know in your comment.
♦ Registration for the giveaway will close at 5:00pm Eastern Time on Thursday, August 6th. The winner will be randomly selected, and notified via email on August 7th. Good luck!

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Visit the Speech-EZ Facebook page to enter even more amazing GIVEAWAYS, and learn details of the big SALE to follow! Click here

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Differently Gifted

I was recently paid a long overdue visit, by a very special friend of mine. Now, when I say that Colleen is a special friend, I don’t just mean that she is someone who is important to me, I mean she is truly, a one-of-a-kind, special human-being. Losing her only child in 2007, Colleen has experienced tragedy, that many of us could never, and will never comprehend.  Her sudden loss had became a marker in her existence, dividing her life into 3 categories: before, during, and after her son’s death. I was lucky enough to have known Colleen during each category of her life. I always knew she was special, but I watched her evolve into greatness! Colleen is not super-human, she went through every stage of grief that anyone who suffers loss will experience. Through each inevitable stage of grief, she made choices that would little by little, change the direction of her life. The choices she made, were a reflection of the shift in her priorities, and the shift in her priorities, was a reflection of her loss. Just days after her son, Scott passed, she made a decision to use her son’s legacy, and create a positive impact in her community. To make a very long, and inspiring story short, Colleen is the founder of SCOTT Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs to inspire our youth towards selfless service. With the help of many other special people, Colleen was able to create something that she knew her son would be proud of. It was an amazing thing to watch! Continue reading

Sensing some sensory

“She’s just quirky.”, “She loves accessorizing!”, “She must be cold.”; this was my repertoire of justifications, every time Gia would come marching out of her room in an entire outfit that would include a jacket, a hat, a scarf, 5 headbands, 3 necklaces, 2 pairs of socks, and even a pair of gloves. It didn’t matter if it was winter or summer, she had this overwhelming desire to cover her body from head to toe. This didn’t happen all the time, but rather in very sudden, and explosive spurts. She would go to various areas of the house, seeking out items to consume her little frame, and it didn’t even have to be clothes; she would sit in a hamper, put a box over her head, or wrap her arm in string. I’ll be honest, it was weird, but it was Gia!  My son, Nick always took life a little more seriously, insisted on doing things perfectly, and generally didn’t see much outside the box. Gia on the other-hand, was my free-spirit, she was confident, independent, and did EVERYTHING outside the box, and I loved this about her! All kids are different, right? Well yes, but as Gia got older, I noticed these “quirky habits” were brinking on the edge of obsession. Other caretakers in Gia’s life began to take notice. The very first daycare she went to, gave her a cute little red basket with toy fruit for Christmas. I think their exact explanation for the gift was, “We know she likes to put baskets on her head!” Continue reading

The Apraxia Angels

Gia’s speech therapist had seen Apraxia in children before, and couldn’t help but notice some of the “typical” signs in Gia. As strong as her feelings were, she regrettably admitted that this was not something she was qualified to diagnose, or even provide therapy for. She explained that this wasn’t your typical speech delay, but that it was a neurological speech disorder, that would require years of intensive “drill” therapy by a specialized therapist. As I held back tears, I asked, “What does this mean for Gia’s future?” With a smile on her face, she replied, “Gia has a bright future!” She felt confident that someday, she will sound just like her peers, and this will all be a thing of the past. In the same breath, she was honest with us, and said this would be a very long road, and our lives will revolve around her treatment. “I’m going to refer you over to a place called The Foundations Developmental House, who specializes in Apraxia”, she said. “They will be able to help Gia”.

My husband and I were quiet on the way home. At that moment, we both needed to process this information on our own. We went to this meeting with very different views about Gia, but left with the same heart-breaking news. I went through a range of emotions on the 15 minute drive home, but as I sat in the passenger seat, staring out the window, I cried silent tears of relief. I finally knew how to help my daughter, my husband and I would finally be on the same page, and I could finally leave the months of denial behind me. Continue reading

Apraxia?! What’s that?

To say that Gia was a surprise, would be an understatement! After needing fertility treatments to have my son, Nicholas, I found myself pregnant AGAIN, when he was three months old. Ready or not, Gia came into our lives just 9 months later. I was terrified at the thought of bringing home a second baby, but Gia made it not so terrifying. She was your typical baby, as long as her tummy was full, and her diaper was changed, she was happy! She slept through the night at 8 weeks-old, smiled like it was her job, and let her brother be the star that he so desperately wanted to be. In the first year of Gia’s life, she met all of the standard milestones on time; she rolled over at 4 months, sat on her own at 6 months, crawled at 9 months, and walked at 12 months. She babbled constantly, but had yet to say a real word by her first birthday. I wasn’t concerned, and neither was our pediatrician.

Gia’s 18-month checkup came, and still no words to speak of, just a lot of gibberish. My son was a late-talker, so I didn’t think much of it. I was looking at a healthy, normal little baby, and I figured that the pediatrician would see that too; I was wrong. She very bluntly said to me, “I’m going to flag her in the computer for Autism, because speech delay can be an early sign.” Two thoughts went through my head: one, “Oh my god, my daughter has Autism!”, and two, “What a B****! My daughter does not have Autism!” From that day, until Gia turned 2 years-old,  I found myself studying everything my daughter did. She would do something that I thought was “weird”, and I would run and google it; It was insane! I felt like my brain had been poisoned with this toxic information that I just wanted to go away. I stopped enjoying this happy, and carefree little girl in front of me, and became consumed with what everything meant. Continue reading