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Apraxia Monday: Getting the Granparents Involved

By Leslie Lindsay

Remember when your kiddo wasn’t talking and your parents–or grandparents–said, “Oh, don’t worry.  He’ll grow out of it?” Or something along those lines?  I do.  Only it wasn’t my parents who said that, it was the Grandmotherly baby-sitter we had for Kate at the time.  Believe it or not, it was my parents who urged me to get things checked out with an SLP.  They continuted to pester me, “So is she talking yet?  Any new words?”

I am sure you all have been there.  You know the myths and nay-sayers…”Einstein was a late talker,” “She’s just waiting until she can say it perfectly,” “It’s no big deal.” But we know that it is.  Parents instictively know when there is a problem with our children, whether we admit it or not.

Thank goodness, in part for Kate’s grandparents who urged me to get her evaluated.  At 5 years old, Kate’s apraxia is “resolving.”  Along the lines, we had a little help from lots of folks–from preschool teachers and therapists to good ol’ family.  Here are some ideas for you to get the grandparents involved.

First of all, start slowing by telling them what apraxia is all aboutGive them some resources.  Print them out if you have to.  Not all grandparents are as savvy on the Internet as we might be.  Let them soak in the new information.  Follow up with them the next time you are chatting on the phone or over email, “Have you had the chance to read that information on apraxia yet?  What did you think?”  Just like you, they may have a hard time “believing” the diagnosis.

Once they do come around, it might help to give them suggestions on what they can do to help.  Simple things like repeating the words they say in conversation with your child (“Park…let’s go to the park.  Can you say park?”), waiting for a response, or just practicing sounds, “P makes the ‘puh’ sound.  Can you say ‘puh”?”  Remind them how to praise…”That’s it…you’re getting it.  Now try making your lips look like this.”  They may have to watch you and your child in action a few times to get the dialog down. 

Remind them that your child is just like any other child.  Just because they can’t communicate well doesn’t me that they aren’t as much fun to be around as the other grandchildren.  Tell them what kinds of things your child enjoys doing.  Maybe Grandpa can take him fishing?  Grandma can bake cookies with her.  There are numerous activities they can do together that dosen’t involve talking. 

Finally, remind your child’s grandparents that your child can understand most everything, is smart, and capable.  It will just take longer to hear her sweet voice.

More ideas….

  • Telephone calls can prompt and encourage your child’s developing speech.  Keep a “question and comment” pad near the telephone so you can jot down ideas of things for Grandma and Grandpa talk to your child about when they call.  You’ll likely answer the phone first so fill them in on the list before handing the phone over to your child.
  • If Internet access is available, see if your child and his Grandparent(s) can exchange daily or weekly emails.
  • Offer to give parent’s respite care.  Have your grandchild over for a slumber party or take her out to the movies, everyone will benefit
  • Share driving duty to and from speech therapy
  • Volunteer in child’s classroom or library
  • Pack a snack bag for the week at school
  • Take your child to the library
  • Practice reading and sight words with your child

For things that require extra financial assistance, you may or may not feel comfortable hitting up Grandma and Grandpa, but if do they offer, have a few things in mind:

  • Purchase a digital camera or video camera for the family
  • Assistance in paying for private education or a tuition-based preschool
  • Help pay for the increased cost for testing that’s not covered by insurance
  • Reimbursement for co-pays and therapy deductions
  • Donation towards a special needs group
  • Pay the tuition for a parent to attend a conference on apraxia
  • Offer to pay for family, marital or individual therapy should it be needed
  • Pay for a subscription to a speech journal for mom and dad, or a children’s magazine
  • Assist in covering the costs of products, educational toys, equipment, and pricy computer software.

By-the-way, it’s National Hug Your Kids Day….go ahead, give ’em a big squeeze!

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