Recently, I had a parent in my Small Talk: All About Apraxia group ask, “What do you say to your child about his CAS? Should you tell him that the reason he cannot communicate as well as others is because he has apraxia?” I am not sure that I have “the best” answer, but I did come up with a role-play that may help a parent communicate that information to a child with CAS. It may give you some talking points should you decide you’d like to have a similar discussion with your child.
If you feel you need to talk with your child about why he has difficulty verbalizing his thoughts, feelings, and requests, try a little role-play. You’ll know when the time is right. It may be when he comes inside feeling a bit left-out when other boys were organizing a sports team or when she couldn’t verbally participate in a game of “Red Rover.” Have a little dialog ready when the time comes. It may go something like this:
PARENT (from dad’s perspective): We all have things we are good at doing and not-so-good-at doing. Let’s see…you are really good at building things out of Legos. Your sister is really good at riding her bike. Mommy’s really good at organizing. But there are some things we aren’t so-good-at. For me, it’s decorating. Mommy’s not very good at math. Your sister, well she’s not very good at sharing. And you have trouble using your words.
CHILD: May or may not say much. Ask for his thoughts, anyway. Just because your child is having a difficult time communicating, doesn’t mean you should avoid asking for her opinion or feelings. Always present information to your child with CAS as though you are expecting an answer.
PARENT: The reason you have a hard time using your words has a special name. It’s called apraxia. (You can use its long formal name, Childhood Apraxia of Speech if you don’t think it will confuse your child). You’ve probably heard us say that word, haven’t you?
CHILD: Will likely nod his head.
PARENT: Well, apraxia is the reason we go to therapy [see Miss Jen]. She helps you use your words better. Lots of kids need to go to therapy to learn to use their words better. What do you think about that?
CHILD: Let your child answer. Be prepared to answer some questions or hear how your child doesn’t want to go to therapy.
PARENT: You do know that we love you very, very much and are doing all we can to help you! End with a hug.
Sometimes kids just need to know what the big hoopla is all about. It helps to put things into words your child can understand. Doing so can validate your child’s feelings and “clear the air.” Of course, kids don’t need to know too much. Avoid getting into specifics with them about your adult worries and concerns like how much therapy costs, test and evaluation results, insurance issues, and your own frustration. Share those things with your child’s therapist in private or between you and a trusted friend or your partner. If you really find yourself struggling, you might even consider seeing a professional counselor.
What do you think? Is there a “right” and “wrong” time to share this information with your child? How did you share the information about CAS with your kiddo? Let us know by posting a comment in the “comment” section of today’s blog.