Who Helps Our Children Have A Voice!
you attend our meetings, you may have seen
a familiar face on TV commercials recently. We are all very
proud of our Vice President and Educational
Consultant Cheryl Johnson, who was one of the
800 teachers nominated for the NJ award of excellence, and then selected
as one of the only three out of the 800 as the "Best of the
Best," and asked to be filmed for TV commercials to represent the
"The Award Of Excellence In Teaching!" Cheryl
will join our distinguished panel which includes three of the top special-ed
attorneys, 2 special-ed teachers, and an educational consultant/SLP
for our September
11 meeting, "Back to school, what to look for and what to look out
following are two of our past speakers, Check out some
of our exciting upcoming speakers
Dr. Marilyn Agin,
who is our medical consultant, was our speaker for our October 2nd
meeting. Dr. Agin is the
Medical Director for Early Intervention in New York, as well as having a
private practice for pediatric and developmental medicine in New York
City. Dr. Agin is extremely knowledgeable about apraxia, and
frequently lectures to the medical community about what apraxia is, and
isn't, and her meeting was a wealth of information for both the parents
as well as the professionals that attended. We
appreciate that Dr. Agin has offered to help our nonprofit
in any way
Payne MS CCC-SLP, the co- author of Links to Language 1 and 2, and
Teaching Tales, was our Speaker for the Children's Apraxia
Network's November 6th meeting. Pamela, who lectures to parents and
professionals from all over the country, has offered to write a short
piece for this website for those of you who can not travel to our November meeting.
are fortunate that the Children's Apraxia Network works
together with so many wonderful and knowledgeable professionals, many
who attend regularly our once a month meetings. Kristen Rapsher,
who is one of those professionals from Pennsylvania, has worked
extensively with children who have apraxia, some with both verbal and
ocular apraxia. The following is a very interesting
"piece" from Kristen! (who may also be a speaker at one of our
September 5, 2000
Small piece for Late
Talker vs. Apraxia Website
have been spending some time thinking about the discussion we had last
week. Most of my
observations about muscle tone have come from working with children over
the course of many years. The basic understanding I have is that it
takes a lot more focused energy for young children with apraxia to use
their eyes and head together. It
is really asking a lot to ask kids to work their eyes and head and also
to ask them to learn to talk at the same time.
that are effortless for us require an enormous amount of motor planning
skill on the part of children, especially children with any kind of
apraxia. It must be like
trying to learn French at the same time you're trying to learn how to
swim. No wonder the kids
to this the challenge of low muscle tone and
weakness, and then the challenges seem almost overwhelming.
The key to understanding this is understanding that kids use the
abilities they have in different ways than we do.
So we're not just talking about differences in ability, we are
talking about differences in the way the abilities are used.
For example, kids have a variety of different visual abilities.
Even most blind kids have some kind of visual ability, even if it
is very limited. They may
be able to see light, and this will help them get around in their house.
So their ability is different from typical kids.
The second layer of issue is to ask: what is the child using her
vision for? This might seem
like a dumb question, but it's not.
is where the low muscle tone issue comes into play.
Many kids I know who have low muscle tone, especially in early
development, use their vision to help them maintain their posture.
By this I mean that they focus on a point in the distance and use
their line of sight to fix their body position.
So this is a critical difference in the way vision is used by a
child with low tone as compared to a child with normal tone.
A child can have 20/20 vision, but if she uses her vision to
maintain her posture, it is not available for her to use for any close,
fine-motor work. When the
child breaks her gaze at distance to try to refocus at nearer, she loses
her body equilibrium. That
is why it's so very important to work on fine motor tasks with the child
in a totally supported position. This
allows the child to learn the fine motor skill because the vision is
freed up to for use at near point.
don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that kids should not strengthen their
bodies. I don't think kids
should be sitting around supported positions all day. But I have found
that the supported position allows the child to focus their energy on
speaking and/or looking.
critical analytical skill here is to understand that there may be a
difference in ability to coupled with a difference in functional use of
vision. To try to present
close work to a child who is focused at distance without providing that
child with the support they need to be successful at near point is
useless. And I don't know
how many times I've seen teachers do just that, turn to me with an
exasperated look, and say, "I just can't get this kid to pay
I say, "he's using his vision and all his energy to just
that's really do just of what I
have to say. I have just
bought the Dragon Naturally Speaking software, so I've
dictated this entire memorandum.
If things look weird, that is why.
It makes one feel very powerful to see one's words coming up on
the screen as soon as one says them!
So I'm going to try to figure out how to e-mail this to you now
that I've dictated it and hopefully you will get it in the next day or
we can find a middle point where we could meet for lunch someday.
It would be good to get a chance to talk some of the stuff over
with you in person.