Apraxia Monday: Interview with Dee Fish, SLP

Welcome to a great Monday!  I am bubbling over with enthusiam for today’s post.  Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Dee Fish, CCC-SLP of Highland Park, Il where she have been in private practice for 25+ years.  Dee is a well-known therapist, speaking at various seminars, webinars, and was  a presentor at the CASANA 2009 National Conference.  She is trained in Kaufman, PROMPT, DTTC, and play-based therapy.  Her latest accomplishment is her recently released book on treating CAS. 

Not only is Dee a dedicated therapist, but such a pleasant person as well.  She is so very warm, supportive, and eager to help kids with a variety of speech-language concerns.  Please check out her website at www.speechforchildren.com for more tips, hints, and resources.  For now, sit back and enjoy the interview. 

* Can you tell us a little about your educational background, Dee? How did you get involved/interested in speech pathology?

 I received both my Bachelors and Masters degrees in Speech Pathology from Eastern Illinois University. Although my intention was to study Deaf Education and Psychology, I decided to take a course in children’s language development, an offering in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences. I was hooked! Before long I changed my major to Speech Pathology. It is almost 30 years later, and I continue to find my work as a speech-language pathologist to be profoundly rewarding.

* You have a successful speech-language practice in Chicagoland. How did that all come about? What population do you typically treat?

 Nearly 20 years ago, a conversation in the hallway of my daughter’s preschool led me to a professional study group with other area SLPs. Through these connections, I slowly began to grow a private practice. I enjoyed the flexibility of seeing children during the mornings while my children were in preschool. As my children have grown (my daughter, Jackie, is 21 and my son, Michael, is 18), so has my practice. Over the years I have narrowed the focus of my practice, and I tend to receive referrals primarily for children with severe speech sound disorders (including childhood apraxia of speech), language delays and disorders, and social language challenges.

* When did you have your first experience–personal or professional–with CAS?

I probably have been working with children with CAS since I began my career in 1982. Recognizing that their challenges were related to motor planning, however, occurred about ten years later. I attended a workshop that addressed working with children with highly unintelligible speech, and recognized that one of my students met many of the characteristics of CAS. The workshop facilitator recommended using different strategies to support speech development in children with CAS than the type of treatment strategies I had been using. It was phenomenal to see my client’s progress accelerate when I began using the appropriate treatment strategies!!

* Of course, I have to ask about your recently released book–it’s all about CAS–can you tell us a bit about the process of writing that book?

Writing for me was an interesting process my goal in writing Here’s How to Treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech was to provide practical treatment strategies for speech-language pathologists working with children with CAS, and to support these strategies with research evidence and strong theoretical foundations. I wanted readers not only to come away with an understanding of what to do, but also why. I enjoyed pouring over books and research and reviewing notes and handouts I had saved from every CAS-related workshop I had attended over the past couple of decades. I also relied heavily on those colorful sticky notes that I would use to jot down ideas that came to me during treatment sessions. As the months went on, my therapy room walls and desk were filled with sticky notes.

 Figuring out the topics to cover in the book was a relatively easy process – I simply tried to answer those questions most often asked by therapists and families during my workshops. The more challenging thing was to determine how to organize the information in a way that would be beneficial to the reader. I wanted to readers to have the confidence to make a differential diagnosis for a child with suspected CAS, an understanding of the complexity of challenges facing children with CAS, and guidance about how to develop treatment programs using evidence-based treatment strategies.

* You have been giving webinars for a while now. What exactly is a webinar and how can blog readers get involved? When’s the next one?

A webinar is a seminar given over the internet so that participants need not travel to participate. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) has begun to offer webinars about various topics related to childhood apraxia of speech. I will be presenting CASANA’s next webinar on Thursday, November 11, at 7:00 p.m. EST on the topic of “Supporting Social Language Development in Children with CAS.” 

Click link below to register for the $35 webinar. 


* What advice, resources, or thoughts would you like to leave parents of children with apraxia with? 

The single-most valuable resource for parents of children with CAS is the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). CASANA provides families, therapists and researchers access to accurate and reliable information about CAS and related challenges. CASANA’s website, www.apraxia-kids.org, is the place to go for support, such as the listserv, and information, including online articles and a variety of DVDs to help inform parents and professionals about various topics related to CAS. In addition, CASANA hosts an annual conference and sponsors several workshops around the country throughout the year. Webinars,  like the one mentioned above, are a new avenue that CASANA is utilizing to get the word out about concerns of parents of children with CAS.

In addition to providing a warm and supportive environment for children, one of the best things that families can do for a child with CAS is to locate a therapist who understands the unique needs of children with motor speech challenges. Request that your SLP explain the goals and methods, as well as the types of things you can be doing at home to support your child’s communication skill development. It is encouraging as I travel around the county to meet so many SLPs who are interested in learning more about helping children on their caseloads with CAS. I am hopeful that increasing knowledge and supporting new research will serve to improve communication outcomes for children with motor speech challenges.

Yay!  Thank you so very much, Dee for your time and thoughtful responses to CAS-something very near and dear to our reader’s hearts. 

Dee’s book was published in October 2010 and is available through www.pluralpublishing.com and www.amazon.com.  It retails for about $80.   

Here's How to Treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Coming Up on Leslie4Kids:

  • Information about Silent Stars, a Chicago non-profit supporting CAS
  • Raising Your Spirited Child
  • Author, Jane O’Connor of the Fancy Nancy Series–book signing experience and other info, but not a “true” interview
  • Author and SLP Teri Peterson interview and book give-a-way

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