Cayla is talking more and more and unclear words are becoming a little bit easier to understand which is great! I love listening in when Cayla is playing with her older brother Nathan. Being her brother he does understand her pretty well but it’s also because her words are becoming more clear which is pretty exciting. Even though she can say quite a few clear words now it seems to be more difficult for her to put them together in a long sentence. Sometimes she chats away and it sounds like Japanese, really cute but we can’t understand a word!
Because people are fundraising for TCCP every year children with cerebral palsy are able to receive equipment needed to help them do more ‘normal’ things and it make their lives just that little bit easier. Nearly two years ago Cayla was lucky to receive a device called Vantage Lite, we call it her ‘computer’. Some of you may know what a Vantage Lite is but for you that don’t it’s a device (size of an iPad) with 84 different pictures. Different picture combinations make up a range of words and sentences. This device is Cayla’s voice when people can’t quite understand what she is trying to say. Last year TCCP secured a huge grant to help children using different AAC system (argumentative and alternative communication) with extra therapy sessions to help making them more confident and efficient in using the device at home and/or at school. Cayla has recently received the first block of these intensive therapy sessions with senior speech pathologist Sue Suter from the TCCP’s cp tech department. Sue reported that even though Cayla is not using the device all that often she is picking up new words and word combinations very quick which is a great start. Because Cayla is verbal we don’t use it at all at home but we do bring it to school every day. Cayla’s teacher and the speech pathologist at the Language Development Centre have recently been trained in using the device and hopefully they will find it useful in the classroom. Ideally we want Cayla to be able to speak on her own without the use of a device but right now we can all see that it can be a great teaching and assessment tool for a range of activities at school. Things like telling her weekly news and what she has been up to over the holidays and so on.
Some very exciting news is that Cayla has been accepted to a 5-day camp in October! It’s a camp for children using a device such as the Vantage Lite and the whole family is invited to come along. There will be plenty of experienced staff at the camp and lots of things for the siblings to do so I’m pretty sure it will be lots of fun! The camp is called Motor Mouth Camp and is sponsored by Variety. You can find more info here.
There are no short cuts, Cayla’s speech is improving slowly but she will need to go to speech therapy for many years ahead. We practice sounds, tongue movements, lip closure, words and sentences and so on every day. The Language Development Centre is truly an amazing school with a range of programs in place to help children with speech difficulties. Socially Cayla is such a happy and lovely person who easily make friends at school. She is just like any other 5-year-old girl with a love for pink, Barbie dolls, dancing and singing. She loves helping out in the kitchen, taking her little soft toy dog “woof” out for a walk in the stroller or standing on our bed singing to herself in the bathroom mirror. She is still drooling a fair bit and we use the scarfs pretty much every day. It gets worse when she’s concentrating or working on different speech sounds and with only 12 kids in the class they work them hard! But saying that Cayla absolutely loves going to school and ringing the bell is very exciting and fun job!