Apraxia Monday: Word Study

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By Leslie Lindsay

Each day, I am reminded that my daughter has apraxia.  It’s not so apparent anymore.  Her speech has really developed since she was diagnosed way back when (she’s 6 now), her vocabulary is huge–even if she doesn’t articulate so well.  But, there was a time when I knew absolutely nothing about speech pathology.  Nothing.

Fast-forward 4 1/2 years and I know waaay more about speech pathology than I ever, in my wildest dreams imagined. 

In elementary school, there were “speech teachers,” whom some of my classmates would see on occassion.  Later, I learned these folks were actually speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and I really had no idea they worked anywhere but within schools.

Entering High School, there were “speech teachers,” but of a different sort.  These speech  teachers taught speech & debate, improvisational theater, radio & television broadcast…all of which I was involved with when I was a student.

And then, I had a baby (some years later).  And this baby grew to become a non-verbal toddler.  And she was diagnosed with speech apraxia (CAS).  And my eyes were wide-open.

Generally speaking, parents will do just about anything for their kiddos.  So, schlepping my daughter to and from the local speech clinic didn’t seem all that bothersome, with the exception that I hardly knew what they would do for my little pumpkin.  I had no background experience to draw from, I knew virtually nothing about the assessment process or even how to read that darn report!

Drawing on my medical background, I was able to punt my way through.  Assessment and diagnosis…treatment (plan)…intervention…prognosis…all of which are common medical terminology.  I had a pretty good understanding of some latin word roots, and knew that apraxia basically meant, “without motor speech,” yet I didn’t really know what more to make of the diagnosis.

Let’s start with that report you’re likely to receive from an SLP.  It’s filled with all kinds of words.  Big words, little words…and you may not know what they all mean.  Don’t lose heart!  If you don’t know something, please ask–it’s better than wondering and waiting if you aren’t sure.

For example, here’s a list of terminology I wasn’t so familiar with:

  • Pragmatics:  The practical aspects of speech–how  your child uses language to communicate with others in her environment. Examples
    include: responding to other’s vocalizations, point to/show/give objects, making eye contact, responding to greetings, and
    controlling behavior
  • Receptive Language:  The words and phrases one receives.  Listening is part of receptive language.
  • Expressive Language:  The words and phrases one says.  Speaking is part of expressive language.
  • Articulation:  How clearly something is said.  Can you distinctly hear the sounds of each letter as your child says them?
  • Prosody:  The flow or rhythm of speech; does your child sound “smooth,” or “choppy?”
  • Groping:  Searching for the right word.  Sometimes, with apraxia in particular, you can almost “see” your child mentally searching (something struggling) to find the right word.

Okay–I know there are more, so many more but this will be enough to whet your appetite for next week.  Until then, I leave you with a few apraxia-world updates:

  • Sign up for an Apraxia Walk near you!  Visit the CASANA website, www.apraxia-KIDS.org and see what might work for you.  Our family is registered for the Chicagoland Walk on Saturday, October 15th
  • Windy City Apraxia is planning it’s next drop-in meeting for this Friday, September 16th at 7pm.  Email Holly at chicagoapraxia@comcast.com for more information.  This is a FREE event.
  • Small Talk: All About Apraxia is a FREE 5-week session of all you ever wanted to know about apraxia held in Naperville, IL beginning Thursday, September 22 thru Thursday, October 20th.  Email Leslie leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com to reserve your spot.

My book, Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding and Coping with Childhood Apraxia of Speech is due out in early 2012 by Woodbine House.  Keep your eyes peeled!

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