Apraxia Monday: “What Can I Do to Help My Child with CAS?”

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By Leslie Lindsay

NYC Pediatric Speech Therapist, Erica Gale, provides pediatric speech-language pathology services.

(image retrieved from www.speechworks4kids.com)

I often hear parents and caregivers ask, “What can I do to help my child with CAS?”  First, you are doing a really great thing just simply by asking–you know that not all of the speech work your child needs is going to come from the SLP.  Parents and caregivers (grandparents, babysitters, others)  really do have a large role (no pressure!) to fill when it comes to getting your child with CAS (or really any speech delay/disorder) learn to communicate verbally better. 

Here are some key reminders for a successful approach to working with your child:

  • Have your child repeat, repeat, repeat.  “Can you say that again?!  One more time!”  Make it a game, make it fun!  Kids with CAS really need to practice the motor planning.  It actually helps to build those neural pathways for speech by repeating words or phrases.
  • Provide lots of opprtunities throughout the day to have your child vocalize or talk–about anything.  You can ask questions about your environment, what to eat, what to play, where to go, the children’s book you are currently reading by pointing out illustrations, etc.  Make it fun–let your child see that speaking is indeed part of everyday life.  (Note:  sometimes it’s easier to give your child choices like, “Would you like milk or juice for lunch?” instead of “What do you want to drink?”  Likewise, you can ask your child, “Should we go to the park, or stay home and play with Play-Doh?”  Give your child an opportunity to respond–even if it’s just an approximation).
  • Be goofy and funny.  Why not?!  If you are more relaxed, so too, will your kiddo…and the better she will be at communicating verbally.
  • Make talking and speech practice more about your daily routine/life than “sit-and-speak” time.  When you incorporate speech practice into small crevices of your day, you and your child don’t get so overly taxed on it.  (this is the idea of distributed practice versus mass practice). 
  • Team up with your SLP.  Have her/him give you some ideas for “homework.”  Make sure you report back on how things went.  What did your child grasp easily?  What did she struggle with?  Remember, your SLP is an important–and integral–part of your child’s life.  Work with them…that’s what they are there for. 
  • The more talking feels like work, the less willing your kiddo will be to do it.  ‘Nuf said!
  • Imitation is HUGE!  “Can you say what I say?”  You can also practice speech skills by saying things in unison/together (songs, chants, memorization, even the ABC song works this way), “Let’s say this one together, okay?!” 
  • You are mom and dad first.  You really don’t need to become your child’s second SLP.   And you certainly don’t need to be a drill sergeant. 
  • Your role is to complement your SLPs efforts at home.  Draw it out, build on what your child already knows and does in speech, but don’t overdo it. 

Good luck!!  Let me know what works for you…

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