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 See Who Helps Our Children Have A Voice!

If 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 for! Wow! 

The 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 she can.

Pamela 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. 

We 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 future meetings.)    

MEMORANDUM

To:        Lisa Geng

From:    Kristen Rapsher

Date:    September 5, 2000

Subject: Small piece for Late Talker vs. Apraxia Website

I 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.

Activities 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 get frustrated!

Add 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.

This 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.

Now 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.

The 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 attention!"  "Well,"  I say, "he's using his vision and all his energy to just stay upright!"

So 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 so.

Maybe 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.

Take care, 

Kristen

  
  Untitled Document

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Copyright 1998 - 2003
Date of last update: February 17, 2003

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead, anthropologist

Send mail to Support with technical questions or comments about this web site. 
Copyright 1998 
Last modified: Friday, June 03, 2005

To find your way around the CHERAB part of this site please click here for the index.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead, anthropologist

Send mail to Support with technical questions or comments about this web site. 
Copyright 1998 
Last modified: Friday, June 03, 2005

To find your way around the CHERAB part of this site please click here for the index.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead, anthropologist