Hard Work Means a Big Payoff

October 13, 2017By: VocoVision

Many speech pathologists find that offering a big reward for a patient’s hard work is a great incentive for the patient. Many people will assume that the success itself would be enough to inspire and motivate. Yes, the success alone of finally accomplishing a goal is a big deal but like most people, a reward at the end of it all is also a great tool to motivating and inspiring a patient. In the case of Max Bird, a young boy in Iowa with Down Syndrome, he is ecstatic about the possibility of meeting his favorite country music singer.   

It Was His Parents’ Idea

13-year old Max has idolized Luke Bryan since he was in elementary school. Each therapy session ends with the singing of a Luke Bryan song as a small reward for his efforts. Max has affectionately dubbed it “Luke Bryan Time” and looks forward to it so much that he rarely fights his therapy sessions. His passion for the star has engulfed his family who do all they can to nurture his love. When Luke Bryan’s tour manager announced a stop in Boone, Iowa on Sept 30, the parents thought that if they used the concert as a reward, maybe Max could learn to speak the letter K. His parents were right! Max has finally achieved the ability to pronounce the sound of the letter K and can say “okay” in conversation.

That K Is His Major Breakthrough

As with most children with childhood apraxia, making certain sounds were exceptionally difficult for Max. The K sound was his arch nemesis and he would often call the country star “Lute Bryan.” His speech therapist was very patient in moving his jaw for him to help him learn how to make that sound. It took approximately three months but Max caught on sometime in August. He was able to guide his own neck and jawline to make the K sound without assistance. Shortly thereafter, he was able to do it repeatedly and has shown significant improvement. He may always have to use the technique in order to make the sound but for Max, he is incredibly thrilled that he can now say Luke Bryan with confidence. We are sure you can imagine how excited his therapist was!

What Can Inspire Your Own Child?

Each child is different and the best suggestion is to look at those things that they adore and are passionate about. For Max, it was a specific singer. For other children, it could be as simple as a day out with their favorite relative or a trip to a theme park. By tapping into those things that can get excited about, you can find lots of motivation and inspiration. Does this mean big rewards for every milestone? Not necessarily! Using small rewards often and big rewards for the truly hard stuff is our best suggestion. Luke Bryan did learn about Max, the two were able to spend some one-on-one time together before the concert!

How do you reward your speech students for their progress? Share with us in the comments below!

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