Happy New Year! Learning to say “mommy”

We have been working on saying “mommy” for months. Maggie has been able to say “mama” for a long time, but a few months ago she stopped saying mama and started saying “mah-eee”.

I feel that was progress for her because she was using both vowel sounds from the word mommy but she was not able to add the middle “m” sound (even though she could when saying mama) because the combination of two different vowels and two syllables was too much to concentrate on. That second m sound was a bridge too far.

In October I spent several nights in the hospital, and the day I got home Maggie said mommy perfectly couple of times. I am sure that she heard the word mommy a lot while I was gone. After that day, she was not able to repeat the word mommy, no matter how hard she tried. One hallmark of apraxia is inconsistency. The child might say it once, but cannot remember from one day to the next how she did it, until she has learned that word to the point of muscle memory.

We started having Maggie watch a Gemiini video modeling loop of “mommy”.

Here is a video from December 29th. I often work with her one syllable at a time. “Say mah, Say me, Say Mommy”. This has been a great stepping stone for multi-syllable words.

We made a breakthrough on 12/30/15 when she was finally able to say mommy on command more than once.

Although she struggled the first few times, saying “mah-eee” as she has been for months, this was a breakthrough for her, as she was finally able to imitate the word Mommy on command multiple times. I knew we could move the ball further downfield if we struck while the iron was hot, so later that night we worked on it again when the promise of chocolate chips led her to repeat it several more times.

Therapy Approach

This is a good representation of one therapy method I am using with her–answering but correcting her normal day-to-day attempts at saying “mommy”, using video modeling to give a lot of opportunity to hear and see the word said hundreds of times, impromptu practice sessions like the one posted above (walking around and playing at the same time), targeted practice while seated with a reward, aiming for multiple correct repetitions.

Choosing words

The words we are working on are specifically selected–we are prioritizing words that she needs and wants to say, which utilize consonants and vowels that she can say in isolation. Mommy is a good example as she calls me repeatedly many times a day (giving us many natural opportunities to practice), and she can say “m”, short “o” and “y” sounds in isolation. The trick is learning to string them together into a two syllable, two consonant, two vowel word.

Transitioning a word from therapy success to normal daily speech

Even though she was able to say mommy several times, whenever she called me that night she reverted back to her old way. I would respond to her, but gently reminded her of the proper pronunciation. We have been doing it that way for months, where I respond when she calls me but remind her of the correct pronunciation and often encourage her to try again. This time she was finally able to get it and it stuck. This morning (New Year’s Day), she has been calling me “Mommy” consistently with no prompting. She woke up this morning¬†calling “Mommy! Mommy!” from her bed. She had slept all night, and woke up saying “mommy” correctly with no prompting, all on her own. I think she’s finally got it!!! We have been working consistently on learning to say “mommy” since she first said it in October, making very slow baby steps of progress along the way. After saying “mommy” a few times one night in October Maggie was not able to say the word “mommy” correctly again until the last week in December. It is music to my ears and a wonderful start to 2016!!

2 thoughts on “Happy New Year! Learning to say “mommy”

  1. Oh MOLLY I’m so happy for you and for precious LuLu. You are a wonderful, PATIENT, loving, caring, Blessed MOMMY. I feel I know you and your family, I pray for you daily just as I pray for my other 28 family members. I love reading LuLu’s progress, she has come a long way, thanks to our Lord, her mommy and others that love her. Love you, MIMI

    Sent from my iPad


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