By Leslie Lindsay
Forget Hammer time…it’s yoga time!
Just recently, my daughter Kate (7.9 years and recovering from CAS) came home from school all pumped up about yoga. Yes, yoga. Her P.E. instructor lead a week-long segment on the benefits of yoga. She fell in love. (and yay for the P.E. teacher for trying something a little unconventional).
Kate looked around the house for my yoga mats–she going to teach mom some “yoga moves” (forgetting all about the all-important after-school snack). I smiled and went along with her. Satisfied, she rolled the mats out in the basement play area and flipped on an old Enya C.D. She even made a poster, ‘Yoga is Fun’ and a membership card. She stood at the bottom of the stairs and fake-punched my card. I was set for a 1:1 yoga instruction.
She lead me through a series of excercises/poses and I have to admit–some were pretty tough. She beamed. I don’t know if it was the fact that mommy was doing something she had learned at school, or the fact that she could get her tiny, pliable body into more poses than me, or perhaps it was just that yoga ‘spoke’ to her.
Just why is yoga so effective for my daughter? And what does childhood apraxia have to do with it, anyway? (image source: http://www.hotbody-fitness.com/kids-yoga-3-7-yrs.html. No affliation between the author of this post and this website)
For those of you who aren’t familiar, CAS is a neurologically-based motor speech disorder. Rooted in the brain, but expressing itself in the verbal communication (or lack thereof) of children, CAS is a complex disorder characterized by the inability to produce verbal sounds to form intelligible words. Here is the definition offered by ASHA in 2007, “A neurological childhood (pediatric) speech sound disorder in which precision and consistency of movements underlying speech are impaired in the absence of neuromuscular deficits.” In plain language, children with apraxia of speech want to speak, yet they just can’t coordinate their thoughts with their mouth. (image source: http://simplifyyoga.com/kids_yoga. I have no affiliation with this website or company.)
Here’s how yoga may help your child with CAS:
- Child becomes more self-aware.
- Make the brain-body connection that is so vital in a neurologically-based motor speech disorder.
- Some yoga requires chanting or mantra style vocalizations (humming, buzzing), which is all a part of early communication.
- There is a good deal of breath awareness in these exercises and any yoga practice.
- Finally, the repetitive aspects of relaxation exercises and yoga poses are key: the body craves repetition to gain mastery over motor-based movement.
These very same principles can be applied to speech-language pathology, and specifically childhood apraxia (CAS).
If you feel like this is a path you would like to explore, look to see if your child’s speech clinic offers occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, or yoga. It really can be quite beneficial to children of all ages with all types of motor speech disorders. Worst case scenario: your child has tapped into a new coping strategy that may prove helpful for the future.
- For more information about the research-based Calm Classroom program (a guided relaxation/yoga audio CD), please visit their website, http://calmclassroom.com.
- You’ll also find yoga and other alternative methods of treatment for CAS in SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012).
- Check out Omazing Kids, a blog developed by Angela Moorad, SLP on the benefits of yoga and keeping kids of every abililty active. http://omazingkidsllc.com/
- Here’s Omazing Kids’ Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga?ref=ts&fref=ts
- Next week, Feb 4th we have a special guest interview of “Apraxia Dad” David Ozab.
- In two weeks, Feb 11th, a little information on recently published He Talks Funny by Jeanne Buesser.
- Later in February, an interview with school-based SLP Natalie Boatman.