Bowties are neat

On the left there is an image of a flash card depicting a man in a suit tightening his bowtie.  On the right is a photo of the Doctor from Doctor Who, also wearing a bowtie.

At left, the flash card for "neat" under the consonant-vowel-consonant tip-alveolar assimilation section of the Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit for Children. At right, the Doctor from Doctor Who.

This is an inside joke, but I can’t resist. My 2-year-old son has verbal dyspraxia, a condition impairing his speech. One of the tools we use at home is the Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Kit, otherwise known as Kaufman Cards. The front of a card shows a picture. The backside lists several likely pronunciations that your child might utter when you prompt him to say the indicated word. A man wearing a bowtie? He’s “neat” of course.

The epic British family TV show Doctor Who debuted this year with a new writer/producer and new cast, along with new catch phrases for the lead character. The Doctor is sporting a bowtie now. In an almost overcompensating fashion, several times through the season the Doctor has explained his fashion sense by saying, “Bowties are cool.”

So, we can’t help but smile when the bowtie card comes up and our son says “neat.”

For those keeping track, my son now has a string of frequently used words: Mama, Papa, sister (“dih-duh”), me, mine, up, no, in, out, on, eat, baby and boy.

My wife has compiled a longer, more impressive list, but there’s a big difference between speech and language. There are a lot of words my son can say when prompted to parrot them, but using words with contextual meaning is long in coming. And, there are many types of sounds he simply can’t make yet.

A lot of muscles are involved in producing speech, and apparently one of my son’s problems is vocalizing words that require using muscles at the front of his mouth, then back, and then front again. In the past few weeks, he has begun adding the “t” in “neat.” We’re now working on consonant-vowel-consonant words that start with M, P and B that force him to do some vocal gymnastics.

His attention span is improving too. His Speech Language Pathologist uses play therapy, prompting him to say certain words before getting to play with a toy. For example, if he wants to play with soap bubbles, the SLP will blow a bubble only after hearing a good attempt at saying “bubble,” “pop” or another related word.

For the first time last week, my son spent his entire 45 minute session playing with a single toy (play dough). In the past, he has lost interest in toys/activities every 2 to 5 minutes. If we can sustain this level of attention, it will do wonders for his practicing making sounds.

Two other developments include:

1. My son learning it’s funny to fart while his diaper is being changed. Last week he would fart and then say “Toot!”

2. In the past couple days he has given himself a new name, indicating we should call him “noo-muh.” At first I thought it was his way of pronouncing “name,” but he will point to each family member and say, “Mama, Papa, dih-duh (sister)” and then point at himself and say, “noo-muh.”

In any case, as dyspraxia cases go, we seem to be making tremendous progress.

See related: Kindergarten class photo.


5 Responses to “Bowties are neat”

  1. P.A. says:

    I’m glad to read that your son is making such great progress!!

    When, not if, my son finally gets out of speech therapy, I fully intend to make a t-shirt that says, “My son kicked apraxia’s butt!” (Though I think another, really not child-friendly word, would sound better)

    I can order you one too!

    August 5th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

  2. observer says:

    congratulations on the progress with your son. i love the bowtie pictures

    August 6th, 2010 at 11:51 am

  3. Heather says:

    Glad to hear he is doing well! As I had the same problem as a child I still realise all the muscles in your tongue required for language. I had to be taught it all! It will come in time – as you are seeing/hearing already!

    August 8th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  4. Dallas says:

    I’m so happy to hear he’s making progress!

    I love bow ties AND Dr. Who.

    Last week, I had to attend a friend’s memorial service. My best friend from college was there, with her 15 year old son. Her son was wearing a bow tie, and some of the men remarked on it, and asked if he could tie it. He untied and tied it back perfectly, telling us how to do it, without a mirror. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen!

    September 4th, 2010 at 8:33 am

  5. Jeanne says:

    For curiosity’s sake, does your speech therapist use the touch cues? Ours was trying to get Ben to say the T sound and he kept saying P, then she touched under his chin and IMMEDIATELY he said “ta ta” instead of “pa pa.” It was the craziest thing ever. It’s frustrating to know that we can’t do these things ourselves, but it’s amazing to see how well it works.

    November 5th, 2010 at 11:34 am

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