Cayla’s Speech

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. IMG_7045Because 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! IMG_7192IMG_7190IMG_7266


Cayla’s Talker

Cayla’s speech pathologist from TCCP has made two visits to Cayla’s school to introduced them to Cayla’s “talker” (Vantage Lite) and demonstrated how it can be used in a classroom environment. We are bringing it in every day and I know it will be a great tool when and if someone doesn’t quite understand what she is trying to say. It can also be used to test if Cayla knows her shapes and colours as she can’t say them as clear as other kids.
photoYesterday they used it for Cayla to answer questions about me for Mother’s Day. Apparently I am 12 years old, my job is to bring Cayla to school, my favourite drink is coffee and favourite program is cartoon..!  Some of the kids wrote wine for their mum’s favourite drink.. so funny!

Her “talker” is her ‘voice’ when needed and will help her speak and communicate with her friends. The teacher and EAs are having problems understanding Cayla sometimes and once the language becomes more complex I think she may struggle.  We’ll see what happens, one year at a time. We will soon start the application process and testing needed to enrol Cayla to the Language Development School for pre-primary next year. This will take her speech pathologist at least 15-20 hours of work for as there are quite a few reports to be completed from the tests.
I have finally made a letter to Cayla’s friends at school, or maybe more to their parents. I was quite happy about the letter and hopefully they will find it useful and come to me with any questions about Cayla or cerebral palsy.
Today was the last day of first term and we are all very ready for a break! Even though we have to go to TCCP and Orthotic Solutions for Cayla’s serial casting and AFOs a couple of times over the next two weeks it will be nice having some time chilling out at home. Cayla was given lots of art and craft for her birthday so we have plenty to keep us occupied. Nathan’s birthday is coming up soon so I better get myself organised with his chosen theme “spooky Scooby Doo”! Have a great weekend!

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