Apraxia Monday: Tips for Teachers

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By Leslie Lindsay

Teachers and the Push for Online Education

Your children may already be back in school–or you may have week or two before the big day.  In any case, you’re likely thinking about it–specifics, plus the extras like how you’re going to talk to your child’s teacher about CAS (if you haven’t already).  But what if you are a teacher who has a child with apraxia in your classroom this year? 

Here are a few tips and ideas from parents who may help you understand what all of the hoop-la is about. 

(retrieved from CASANA, 8.30.12, a YouTube video]   See this short video on Apraxia.  It’s a worth your 3 minutes!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nN9dG5F7M0

Tips for Teachers

If you are a teacher reading this, then hooray! I applaud your efforts to learn more about the kiddos in your classroom.

  • Read the child’s IEP.
  • If parents challenge your knowledge, make special requests, or argue for a special IEP meeting, remind them that you are on their side and please don’t take it personally.As parents we just want the very best for our children and we might get a little passionate about it.
  • Communicate privately with parents and never in front of other classmates,unless it is to give really good praise that will make your student feel really proud.These kids often know they can’t communicate as effectively as their peers and they may feel a bit defensive about it. Help build their self-esteem in every opportunity you can find.
  • Give parents advice and insight you learned from teaching their child. For example, “Kate did a great job teaching another student about how we sit at Circle Time. She loves to be in the helper role.” Parents love to hear praise and stories about their child doing well.
  • You may need to do a bit more “pre-teaching” when working with a child with CAS.Let her hear and practice vocabulary words ahead of time (send them home in backpack with a letter to parents indicating the upcoming unit).
  • You might need to work a bit harder to engage a student with apraxia in group activities.Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t respond right away (or at all); just keep trying.
  • Each day is a new beginning.What this student struggled with yesterday could be a non-issue today. Please don’t hold grudges.
  • Be sure you give your students with CAS lots of praise.It helps their confidence level and self-esteem. While you’re at it, praise her parents, too. They’re working really hard all day, every day, to help their child.
  • Relate something special about your student to the parents at least weekly.I can’t tell you how happy it made me to receive an out-of-the-blue email from our teacher saying something like, “Kate was really cute today in class when she started dancing and singing, ‘Mama Mia!’” Small accomplishments mean a lot to us parents.
  • Respond to parents in one way or another (phone, email, “I’ll get back to you later”), even if you don’t have an answer.Parents do not like feeling like they have been forgotten.
  • Realize that we all get burned out.Parents need encouragement and motivation, just like teachers. If we can encourage one another, then all the better!

[Excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House, 2012.  Available thru Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com]

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