Apraxia Monday: Practicing Pirate Poems

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By Leslie Lindsay

She shuffles her feet and looks up at me, a smirk growing across her face.  I nod and prompt her to continue. 

“I’m Captian Kid…my treasure is hid.” Her voice is strikingly loud and clear. 

My heart speeds up a little.  You can do it, kiddo!  It reminds me a lot of the time I sat (hugely pregnant with #2) in a cramped speech-pathologist’s office when this same little girl was being evaluated for a “speech delay.”  You can do it, kiddo!  I chanted in my mind.  Only back then it was simple imitation tasks like, “can you say, ‘moo?’ ”

Fastforward, nearly 6 years and this little girl–the one who couldn’t say ‘mama’ at  2 years old–is now reciting poems in 2nd grade.  She has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). 

Chances are, if you are reading this then you care deeply about a child with delayed speech or CAS.  It’s hard.  It’s baffling.  It’s discouraging.  But, I tell you…with proper interention (frequent, intense, and continuous) speech therapy with a qualified SLP, your child will make huge strides. 

Poetry and rhyming are traditionally very challenging for kiddos with childhood apraxia (CAS).  Why this is, is still a bit baffling to the researchers, but they believe that kids with apraxia may not fully hear the words and lack the ability to recognize the different phonemes.  (image source: http://blog.jumpstart.com/2009/01/30/tips-for-practicing-rhyming-words/)

I found this to be the case with my little Kate.  She couldn’t tell a rhyme from a ream. When we’d ask her, “Hey, I thinking of a word that rhymes with cat–what is it?!”  She would look at us blankly and say, “dog?”  When we would read rhyming books with her like, There’s a Wocket in my Pocket, we’d leave last rhyming word hanging in hopes that Kate would supply it, but she wouldn’t.  Or couldn’t.  Instead, she would provide an alternate word with approximately the same meaning.  My husband knitted his eyebrows and looked over at me, as if saying, “what are we doing wrong?” 

Chances are, we did nothing wrong.  Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) can permeate every crevice of a family–right down to storytime. 

Now that Kate’s apraxia is in mega-resolving mode, we still have to work a little harder than other kids who don’t have apraxia.  We read that goofy poem at home for a good week before she was prepared to do in in class. 

“I’m Captain Kid and my treasure is hid!”  my voice bellowed. 

“Been that way for many a yer…”  my husband’s pirate voice boomed. 

My hubby and I read that poem to each other.  We read that poem to the kids.  We read it so Kate could hear how it was supposed to sound.  We read that poem in the car.  At step-dance.  At dinner.  At bedtime.  She had the darn thing memorizeed…heck, so did I!  And then we had her read it to us.  Lots of times. 

And when I popped a pirate hat on her and handed her a bag of chocolate coins covered in gold foil, she beamed.  She was ready. 

I am happy to report that ‘Captian Kate’ read that poem with fluency, expression, volume, intelligibility, and even interacted with the audience. 

Aye, aye! 

4 responses »

  1. Love your post! It’s so critical to focus on phonemic awareness skills for all children, and especially when apraxia is involved. (Great resources at the end, too.)

    Rebecca

  2. Leslie, congratulations on a well-written post and on the success Kate is enjoying because of her hard work and your commitment and love. Bravo. Thank you so very much for linking to our Phonemic Awareness page. Gaining Phonemic Awareness is important for all children and I’m glad to know you found our resources. Keep up the great work.

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