Sing Out! An Interview and Give-Away with Katie Eshleman

Welcome to an exciting edition of “Apraxia Monday!” 

 I recently had the honor of interviewing Katie Eshleman–a music therapist and mom of three girls, one of whom struggles with CAS.   Carly was diagnosed when she was two years old.  Katie has written and performed a music CD for kids with apraxia called, “Sing Out!” The CD is clear, engaging, and slowed down for kids to have “think time.”  The CD offers 12 tracks with familiar favorites, as well as some of Katie’s own creations.  Katie has graciously donated a CD to the blog and I will giving it away as a sort of contest—no worries–you won’t have to sing!  

L4Kids: Can you tell us a bit more on how you discovered your daughter, Carly’s speech apraxia?

 KE:I began to suspect a speech delay at around eighteen months of age as Carly did not have any language yet seemed to be exhibiting a great deal of frustration in order to have her needs met. We utilized sign language to facilitate communication, but the compete lack of verbal expression was a great concern.  In addition, when Carly was  around two years of age, I noticed a significant disconnect between her receptive and expressive language.  I called in Early Intervention and they confirmed my suspicion.  At that age, they were hestitant to call this verbal apraxia; however, having worked with children withs pecial needs I had seen Apraxia and recognized some of its core features in my daughter. We did receive the diagnosis only about three months later.

L4Kids: As a parent it’s hard to hear that things aren’t developing “typically” with our children, how did you cope once you learned of the diagnosis?

 I have said to others that there is a significant difference in “knowing” your child has a special need and hearing it said outloud for the first time.  I remember a feeling of complete hardbreak coupled with a strong reslove that my child would develop her speech without her special needs adversley impacting her sense of self or self esteeem

 L4Kids: What tips would you give to parents who are hearing the diagnosis for the first time?

KE:This is a wonderful question and one I thought I would be a bit more prepared to answer; however, I am finding it a bit diffiicult. Personally, I just needed time…time to process..time to cry…time to share,….and finally time to make a plan.  I also needed to remember that Carly was the same mischevious, sweet, funny little girl regardless of  the Apraxia. Therefore, when the diagnosis comes up..I have a daugher with Apraxia..not an Apraxiic daughter. 
L4Kids: As a music therapist who worked with special needs kids, would you say that helping Carly through music felt like a natural extension of your career?
 KE: Although my education and experience in the field gave me some of the technical knowledge and theory to support my musical techniques, there is such an emotional component to working with your own child.  I often tell people I am the kind of music therapis I am because I am a mom and I am the type of mom I am because I am a music therapist. It was through Carly that I learned how to integrate these roles to give her the best of both I had to offer.

 L4Kids: How did Carly first respond to your music?  How long did it take before she was able to sing along?

KE: Carly has always loved music and singing in our house is certainly a commonplace activiity. However, her response to my music became evident as I began pairing songs with her daily activities. She began to associate songs with different routines of the day; therefore, making the songs fun and predictable.  Her first response still bring tears to my eyes! After only a short time (maybe a week or two) she chimed in “pop!” during her bathtime song. It was only shortly after that the word “bubble” came along. It was then that I knew she had helped me to discover just how I could help! 

When we sing with our children with Apraxia it is best practice to place the target sound at the end of the musical phrase. After the child becomes farmiliar with the song and the words, start leaving a pause at the end of the phrase. Developmentally, that is the first word young children learn whether their speech is developing typically or there is a special need in that area. For eg.  She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes – Yee Haa

L4Kids: Can you tell us a little of the process involved in writing and recording a music CD

The process of writing and recording were a bit more difficult and time consuming then I originally had envisioned; however, Sing Out was well worth the effort.  I was incredibly fortunate to have had the support and patience of my guitar teacher who also did the recording of the CD itself.  He encouraged me through many “sqeaks” and “buzzes” that were to be expected of a newer guitar player . I have performed on stage for many years, but something about performing in the studio made me a bit nervous; however, I knew  in my heart that if Sing Out helped one child to discover their voice then I was the luckiest woman in the world.  

L4Kids: I understand you are working on a new CD?  When will it be released?  How does it differ from the first one?  What excites you about it?

 I am currently working on my second CD which will feature the avelor sounds (t,d,z,s) I am hoping to have it ready for release by mid-summer.  Sing Out is very simple in its insturmentation and vocals with the goal that parents will learn the songs and sing them with the child during routines of the day. While the second CD keeps with that premise, my hope is to add to the musicality with some additional insturmentation and harmonies. However, I do believe the beauty of Sing Out is in its simplicity and I want the second CD to hold true to that as well! I am very excited about the music and have began using some of the songs with Carly and other kids in music therapy – so far so good!

L4Kids:  How is Carly doing now?

KE: We are so proud of Carly! She continues to work one to one with a speech therapist and continues to make incredible strides.  She has become a talkative, sponteous child before our eyes! As with many kiddos with Apraxia, as her utterances get longer, her articulation errors increase; however, day by day these sounds are being “tweaked.”  She loves speech therapy and to my great delight – loves to sing as well! Carly will be entering Pre-K in the fall of 2010 and our hope is that by kindergarten, many of her articulation errors will have been corrected
 L4Kids: For those parents out there who want to make a difference in the lives of our apraxic kids, but can’t sing, how might we become inspired to use some of our natural talents?  

First of all, I believe that being a great singer is not a pre-requisite for singing with your child with Apraxia. in fact, I tell parents to have fun, keep a bright affect, and perhaps slow their tempo when singing with their child. I think in terms of being inspired to use our natural abilities/talents – let your child inspire you.

 Give-a-way Information:

Would you like to recieve a copy of “Sing Out?”  Sure, you do!  I’d like to know what you’ve done at home with music to help your child with apraxia.  Be the 7th person to leave a comment  in the “comments” section of the blog and I will announce your name tomorrow’s blog and send a copy of the CD your way! 

You can check out Katie Eshleman’s website, or purchase a copy of the CD at

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