Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We had a busy Christmas, flying down to Costa Rica on Christmas morning for my sister’s wedding. My sister was married a few days later in a little outdoor ceremony. My dad walked her down the aisle. Of course it made every one teary. So did his speech, which he gave at her reception. My mom wrote it for him, based on his general ideas, and he had been practicing it for three months. It was about 30 seconds long, and he read it perfectly- not one mistake! My mom had lots of little diagrams and pictures above the different words, such as the position his mouth needed to be in for certain sounds, or other words that began with the same sound.

We enjoyed the sunshine and beautiful flowers and a tram ride through a rain forest while we were there.

Now Dad is back in therapy again, working harder than ever. His energy level has really picked up these last few months, and he can work a lot harder for longer periods now. He finished reading his first whole book out loud. He chose an old children’s book we have: Cowboy Sam. It is 63 pages long, and it took him several weeks to read it (out loud). He would read an average of 5 pages/day, a few days a week. It was really hard work for him, but it got easier as it went. Next read aloud projects: Cowboy Sam and Freddy.

At speech therapy, Dad is spending a lot of time working on blended consonants (sk, st, etc.) and small words (it, is, in, his, her, etc). Small words seem to be the most difficult because they are more abstract. When he can visualize a picture in his mind to go with the word, he can say it much more easily.

We pull out lots of worksheets for him to do at home. He is working on 6th grade reading comprehension skills (with quizzes; he almost always gets 6 or 7 out of 8 correct.).

He is also working more at writing. Writing single words is often quite easy, but putting those words into sentences is very difficult. His words get mixed up and often words that don’t really belong in the sentence sneak in there, throwing off the entire meaning. We challenge him by emailing him questions, such as: “List two adjectives that describe President Lincoln” or harder ones such as “Do you think NATO was right to intervene in Libya?” (We like to challenge his thinking, too!) Even friends of Dad’s are getting into this form of therapy with him. This is hard work for my Dad, and he usually waits a few days before trying to answer.

Not all writing is difficult, however. He did a good job writing up a list of chores for Rose and I to do, organizing them into daily, weekly, and monthly.

Dad is finally at a point where he can work at picking up a plastic cone with his right hand from a pile, lifting it up, and putting it into a new pile about a foot away. He can do about 10 cones now, but two weeks ago, he could do only 5.