Apraxia Monday: Taking Apraxia to School

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By Leslie Lindsay

At home, he may be a regular ol’ chatterbox, even though he has apraxia.  On the playground, she may squeal and giggle and talk with her friends, even though she has apraxia.

That’s because it’s summer.  And your children are at home with you in a familiar environment, where they know the routines, the expectations, and the words/phrases needed to get their messages across.  But this week–or maybe it’s already happened: your child with apraxia will go (back) to school.

What’s a parent to do?!?  Relax.  I’ve got you covered.  Not only are you dealing with the “regular” back-to-school angst every parent deals with, you have at least one other concern: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).  And it’s not easy.

  • Start early, but not too early talking to your child about what it means to go back to school.
  • Get yourself and your kiddo over to the school.  Drive by on your way to Target and point it out, “Oh look, there’s your school!”  You may even consider packing a picnic and having lunch there followed by a session on the playground equipment.
  • Most definitely attend preview day/orientation/meet the teacher.
  • Practice words/phrases that your child will likely need to use at school:  “Can I use the bathroom?”  “I’m Here!/present” (attendance), the teacher’s name (especially if it’s a tricky one), “I brought my lunch today.”  “I am buying lunch today.”  “My mom/dad will be picking me up.”  “I’m a bus rider.”  “Can you help?”  “I don’t understand.”  “I don’t feel well.”
  • Talk about the bus.  Read books about the bus.  Color pictures about the bus.  Point them out when you see them on the road.  Know the bus driver’s name.  Practice it with your child.  With the exception of the first day, make sure your child rides the bus!  It helps them prepare mentally for the school day and makes for an easier transition.
  • Ask your child if there is anything she is especially worried about regarding school.  Be patient and expect an answer.  As a parent, it’s easy to rush in a supply answers, but if you are quiet and let your child do the talking (or otherwise sharing), then you may be surprised.  Her anxiety may have to do with playing tag at recess, for example and not what you may be expecting.
  • If your child is at a low verbal level, ask if he can show you something he may be worried about.  Find the PECs cards, or have him point out something in the home.
  • Your child may fear the unknown.  Her anxieties may ease once she sees the classroom, her classmates, and meets the teacher.
  • A lot of kids are more reserved in novel situations.  It’s okay. 
  • And remember:  if you are anxious, your child will be too.
  • Find things your child is naturally good at and let that be his entree to the school year, rather than focusing on his CAS. 

And that is how you can help your child take apraxia to school!  Best of luck with a new school routine. 

See my guest post on ChildTalk blog, hosted by Becca Jarzynski, CCC-SLP of Wisconsin www.talkingkids.org

4 responses »

  1. I have a child with moderate apraxia. For a child with a more involved form of apraxia, I would suggest some of these strategies:
    – social stories detailing the day so the child has an understandable framework of what to expect
    – practicing short phrases that communicate with peers like, “Let’s play,” or “Follow me,” or “Help me, please” — in some cases, reinforcing saying “yes,” “no,” “please,” and “thank you,” are appropriate as well.
    – reinforce the routine of the day in and around school
    – make sure the teacher is aware of the communication or learning issues facing your child
    – help bridge the communication gap by not being an interpreter for your child, but allowing time for your child to find the words he needs to use.

  2. Good tips in general. Loved the phrases you picked to practice. There are also some great school books for example DW goes to Preschool. Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger is about a student who has trouble saying his “R” and ends up saving the day—it could be a good way to start the discussion about teasing at school.

    • Thanks! Glad you found the post helpful! Yes–I am familar with some of those books, too. So many good back-to-school books, it’s hard to pick! You may also have interest in “Speech Class Rules,” by Rhonda Wojcicki, CCC-SLP. Best of luck this school year.

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