Apraxia Monday: Moved to a NEW site!

By Leslie Lindsay Soccer and organizing Fall 2011 105

Happy Monday!!  I have some exciting news–Apraxia Monday now has it’s very own website.  I started thinking that apraxia was blurring a little with my life as a writer and so wanted to give it it’s own distinct place and website address.  You can now access apraxia-related things at www.speakingofapraxia.com Hooray! 

The site itself is under construction and will be for awhile as I transition content from this site to that site.  So, if there is something in the archives you are looking for at the new place, check in here for the next few months–at least till things get settled. It’s just like moving in real-life.  : ) 

As always, the new site will continue to post all things related to apraxia, including interviews of SLPs, products, ideas, real-life examples and experiences, and content from the book, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA. 

If you have any ideas about things you’d like to see, please please let me know!  This could be any number of things:

  • Your personal story with apraxia
  • A tip sheet
  • Author or SLP interviews
  • Games and/or toys you’ve found particularly helpful in your apraxia journey
  • Book reviews
  • Struggles and how you (or your child) overcame them

I am looking for apraxia story ideas or guest bloggers.  If you want to step up to the plate, let me know!!  Drop me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com and I will get back to asap. 

In the meantime, I will still be posting “The Teacher is Talking on Tuesdays” here at this site (www.leslielindsay.com).  If you’ve found that topic helpful on your apraxia journey, this is the site you’ll come to to find that content. 

Thank you for being loyal readers and for putting up with my move!


Apraxia Monday: Reader’s Theater

  bd (4)By Leslie Lindsay

It’s been a busy and somewhat challenging 2nd grade year for 8 year old Kate, who suffers from Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  Having been dismissed from speech therapy during her tenure as a full-day kindergartner, we thought we were out of the woods.  But, those of you raising a child with CAS know that you may never truly, 100% be completely out of the woods.  There will likely be some twigs and branches that obstruct your view. 

When Kate’s 2nd grade teacher mentioned Kate really enjoys participating in Reader’s Theater in the classroom setting, I cheered.  Fluency with reading is one of those “branches,” if you will that may leave your child with CAS lingering in the woods.  When the Reader’s Theater Club was forming, I promptly signed my daughter up.

But wait–what is Reader’s Theater?  Simply stated, Reader’s Theater is practice reading scripts from traditional and well-loved childhood stories.  Or, you can choose your own–select stories which are lively in dialogue, have several characters, and can be fun to ‘act’ out.  Just remember, there is no memorizing, props, costomes, stages, or the like.  It is simply reading with inflection.  According to an article on Scholastic.com, here are some of the benefits of Reader’s Theater:

bc (4)Readers Theater helps to….

  • develop fluency through repeated exposure to text.
  • increase comprehension.
  • integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening in an authentic context.
  • engage students.
  • increase reading motivation.
  • create confidence and improve the self-image of students.
  • provide a real purpose for reading.
  • provide opportunities for cooperative learning.

For weeks, Kate stayed after school and worked in small groups lead by teachers who volunteered to stay after school sharpening and honing these kiddos projection, fluency, articulation, confidence, and teamwork–all important life skills, but also skills for strengthening her experiences with CAS. 

Last week was Kate’s final performance.  I am happy to say, she was the best little “narrator #2” I ever heard.  When another parent who knows Kate’s struggles leaned over and whispered, “She did really good,” my heart soared.   You just never know how your children with CAS may surprise you!

For more information, please see these resources:

Apraxia Monday: Helen Keller

By Leslie Lindsay

Product Details

About a month or so ago, my family  read Who Was Helen Keller by Gare Thompson.  It’s a small book, designed for kiddos in the 1-4th grades.  You may know Helen Keller as the deaf and blind young woman who became quite famous for her writing and later appearance in the movie “Deliverance.”  You may not know much at all.  And  that’s okay, too!   Grab your notepad, it’s time for a history lesson. (image source: Amazon.com 4.22.13)

With my two girls snuggled on my lap after bathtime and a busy day, we dove into Helen’s dark, silent world. 

Born in 1880 in Alabama to a farmer/newspaper editor and a housewife, Helen was a beautiful–and bright baby.  She learned to speak early.  Her first words were “tea, tea, tea” and “wah-wah” for water.  If she didn’t know words for things, she made signals to show her mother what she wanted  (sound familiar?)

But just before Helen turned two years old, she became very sick with a fever.  In fact, her doctor thought she wouldn’t make it.  But, Helen’s fever broke, and all was well.

Or, so we thought.  Her mother realized Helen could no longer hear when the dinner bell was rung; Helen didn’t blink when objects moved close to her eyes. 

I paused reading, and looked to my daughters,Wouldn’t it be hard if you were blind-folded every day, all day and everything looked like night?”  They nodded, their round eyes growing big. 

I asked, “And what if your ears were stuffed with cotton balls?  That’s how Helen felt all the time.”  Kate and Kelly cupped their hands over their ears and closed their eyes. 

And when I read this sentence in the book, “Imagine if you could not see, hear, or speak.  How would you let people understand you?  How would you ‘talk?'”  my voice caught.  I pulled from what I knew: Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).

[CAS is a neurologically based motor speech disorder, making it hard–or impossible–for children to articulate their expressive language.  It does not have anything to do with being blind or deaf.]

I snuggled my girls closer and read on, “But Helen was smart.  She clung to her mother’s skirt and followed her everywhere…Helen found ways to communicate.”

By the time Helen was five years old, she had devised over 50 signs of her own.  She pulled at her mother and father and that meant, “Come with me.”  For “bread,” Helen acted out cutting a slice and buttering it.  To say “small,” Helen pinched a small bit of her skin in her hand.  She spread her fingers wide and brought then together to show them “wide.” (image sourc: Wikipedia, 4.22.13)

I paused and bit my lower lip.  Little Helen, born 120 years earlier than my own children was employing the same techniques my daughter was CAS was using to communicate with her family.  As a toddler, Kate spoke in grunts and gestures.  She had a few rudimentary sounds which we all learned meant something.  For example, sucking as if from a straw meant “thirsty.”  Tapping her fingers together meant “more.”  “Namja” meant pacifier.  When she pulled my hand, it meant, “come see–I have something to show you.”  Brushing the tops of her hands meant “over, done.”  There are countless others, and I am sure as you read this, you know the ones your child uses to communicate with you. 

That night, we closed the book and promised to read another chapter the next day.  The girls were intrigued.

As promised, Helen’s story continued“The family tried to understand Helen, but it was not easy.  She had a terrible temper.   When Helen did not get her way, she threw a tantrum.”  (Ah yeah, another familiarity).  “Helen knew people talked with their lips, but when she tried moving her lips, no sounds came out.  She did not understand why.  It made Helen so mad.  She kicked and screamed in frustration.” 

At this point, I handed the book to my husband, “Here, you take over now.”  It was as if I slipped into a time warp.  Although my daughter is now 8 years old and doing just fine in regards to her apraxia, reminders of those early, days was a truth I was not ready to handle.  I thought I was reading a biography about a blind and deaf woman, not reliving painful memories of my daughter’s own inability to communicate. 

Kate cocked her head as we read, “Did I do things like that because of my apraxia?” 1028562722_Ri3ve-Ti

I sighed and explained.  “You did.  But it must have been really hard for you to have all of these wonderful thoughts, ideas, and needs inside of your mind with no place for them to go.  We knew you had lots going on in there, it was just hard to pull it all out.”  (image source: personal archives)

Kate nodded, “Yeah.  It was.”

“And that is why we took you to see Miss Jen and Miss Sylvia.  They helped you find your voice and now we don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

There wasn’t much more discussion about apraxia as we continued the story of Helen Keller until I aske Kate if could borrow her book.  She looked up from reading one of her comic books (The Adventures of TinTin has made an appearance in her world).  “Why?” 

I shrugged, “Well, it reminds me a lot of how our life was early on with apraxia.”

“Oh, that,” she said flatly and then  nodded towards Helen Keller sitting in her nightstand, “Go ahead, mom.”  (image source:  www.misspriss.com 4.22.13)

While those early years may have made an impact in my life, I can see that for Kate, it barely phased her. 

Children, like Helen Keller are resilient and can overcome great obstacles.  They can even learn and grow from these things…who knows, maybe some day our children with CAS will grown into speech-language pathologists and help other children find their voices.

Apraxia Monday: Staying *Focused* on Daily Routines

By Leslie Lindsay

(image source: www.thefocusfoundation.org)

Today I would like to introduce a new resource:  The Focus Foundation (http://www.thefocusfoundation.org/FF/index.php).  It’s goal–to identify and help children who have X and Y Variations, Dyslexia and/or Developmental Dyspraxia (also called childhood apraxia of speech/CAS/apraxia).  They focus on bringing awareness to the “forgotten child.” 

I am honored to be invited to speak at their third annual Atypical Learner’s Conference in Annapolis, MD.  My topic:  apraxia, of course!  But as we all know, apraxia is more than just apraxia, it’s a big ball of wax.  So, to narrow it down a bit, I will be speaking on innovative ways in working with CAS.  Sounds like fun…and a bit of of a challenge!

When I think of innovation, what comes to mind is technology.  Nothing needs to be fancy here, no siree…but fun, hands-on, interactive and motor-based and parent involved speech practice.  (In fact, there may be a little technology if you go the route of an iPad for speech apps). 

If you are a fan of Speaking of Apraxia (Woodbine House, 2012), then you already know I am a huge proponenet of having fun and going about your typical, everyday routines while “sneaking” in speech practice.   (image source: http://www.freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com/daily%20routines.htm)

Here are some ideas:

  • In the morning shuffle, why not have your child name the items of clothing she is putting on?  “Here is my shirt.  Now my pants.”  Meet your child where she is at.  Are those words/phrases too difficult?  Tailor it for your child.  Instead of “pants,” say /p/. 
  • If you have a pet, can your child feed or groom the animal?  Have him say, “Soft fur,” or a variation of as he pets the kitty or brushes the dog. 
  • At breakfast, have your child identify what she wants to eat.  You may have to create cards (Boardmaker or use the Clip Art function of your home computer) to depict different types of breakfast food choices (cereal, oatmeal, waffle, yogurt, fruit, etc).  Laminate it if you are so inclined and then have your child point to and attempt to say those choices. 
  • Ready to go?  A friend of mine created a board in which her four children can take a quick glance to make sure they have everything ready to go for the day.  Backpack, shoes, coat, library books, etc.  Again, think clip art and Boardmaker.  Can your child practice saying some of those words? 
  • Don’t forget the car as a place to practice speech!  If you drive your child to school, use this as an opportunity to practice funtional daily phrases like, “My name is ___.”  “Bye-bye”  “Wait for me!”  “Can you play?”  If you child is older, go ahead and practice some other developmenally appropriate words/phrases/spelling words.

There are plently more opportunities to “sneak” in speech practice…what are some of your favorites? 

For more information:

Apraxia Monday: Give-a-Way & Interview with Author of “My nAMe is mILLy”

By Leslie Lindsay Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

Here’s a special treat–interview with mom times 4 and author of the recently released children’s book, hi My nAMe is MiLLY, Heather Ziessler.   Heather Zeissler[all images courtesy of Heather Ziessler]

Thanks a bunch for taking the time to chat with us, Heather.  We are super-excited to learn about your new book for kids on apraxia, specifically siblings.   Let’s start by getting to know you a bit.

Thank you for having me here.  I am delighted to share my passion for helping other families who are experiencing CAS.

L4K:  First of all, you are a busy mother of four—one of which has CAS.  Can you tell us a little about the family you are raising and how they have accepted your child with apraxia? 

H.Z.: I certainly can, Leslie.  I am married with 4 children, 3 boys and a girl who are currently in elementary and middle school.  As far as sibling acceptance within the family goes, the children have never known anything different.  We have worked very hard as a family to provide a loving, supportive environment for each of the children to thrive in.  This involves lots of communication and individual time with each of them.

L4K:  I understand you have a background in sociology.  How do you think your education prepared you for raising a child with apraxia?  In what ways?

H.Z.: Sociology by one definition is the study of social problems.  So being non-verbal in a verbal world is a social challenge.  This in turn, leads back to the main definition of sociology which is the study of cultures, more specifically, the study of social relationships between people.  Surprisingly, the degree has been very helpful.  It has provided a framework of reference, in regards to how various people treat Malcolm.  It is so easy to be caught up in medical or therapy worlds and how those institutions relate to a person as compared to providing typical childhood experiences on a regular basis.  It is a balancing act, to say the least.   It also helps that I have a natural, life long, curiosity to understand what is going on inside a person. What makes them tick?  Being able to understand and read between the lines of apraxia research is also a benefit.  These skills enable me to be a better advocate for all of my children.

L4K:  How did you dream up the idea to write a book for children about apraxia?  I am assuming it all came to you as a mom…but maybe I am wrong?  Cover (with copyright notice)

H.Z.: I didn’t dream this up; I LIVED it. [chuckle]  When Malcolm was first diagnosed, I had a very verbal 5 year-old, a 1 year old, and was pregnant with our 4th child.  My husband was out of town quite a bit for work, so things were beyond crazy in our house.  It didn’t help matters that the extended family was convinced that Malcolm would simply “grow out of it.”  I looked and looked for a book to read to my 5 year old about what it was like to have a non-verbal sibling.    So, I finally took the advice of author Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize and Noble Prize for literature winner who said, “If there is a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  “hi, My nAMe is MiLLY” is the direct result.

L4K:  I have to ask about the title—specifically it’s appearance in upper and lower case letters.  Was this intentional on your part?  And if so, can you share the significance?  Funny you should ask, Leslie.  The book, “hi, My nAMe is MiLLY” is written from 5 year old Milly’s perspective.  Yes, it was intentional and the primary goal is to remind the reader that this is a book from five year old sister Milly’s perspective. 

L4K:  What do you think siblings of children with apraxia struggle with the most?  

H.Z.: I think the siblings of apraxic children struggle with many of the same issues of neuro-typical children.  This is not an inclusive list by any means: Who does Mom or Dad love more? Am I getting my share of the attention?  Are they interested in me?  In addition to, there are other themes that have come up in our experience; such as, the feeling of protectiveness towards the CAS sibling, more so than the others.

L4K:  How can siblings work with one another in the day-to-day struggles of CAS?  Do you see them as an instrument in the overall resolution of the speech disorder.  How have your own children worked with your child? 

H.Z.: Leslie, I firmly believe that the immediate family is the first and best teacher of our children.  The siblings of children with apraxia, have a monumental task.  They not only teach each other the typical things, they are also responsible for giving the apraxic child their first examples of interpersonal communication.  The siblings provide a source of strength and also may act as interpreters, when interacting with children outside of the family.  The siblings are instrumental to each other in developing friendship skills.  The siblings also have the ability to bring speech therapy into play on a peer level basis.  What I mean by this is that the siblings can embrace ‘therapy games’ as regular play.  They can be the informal follow-through to regular therapy.  One of our speech therapist’s said that the younger sibling of a CAS child pushes more than she can pull in terms of developing speech.  Several examples of how siblings have incorporated therapy into play are given in the book, “hi, My nAMe is MiLLY.” [this image from http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/847367/middle-child-syndrome, to represent siblings]  three-siblings-middle-child

L4K:  What advice would you give to a parent(s) just learning of their child’s diagnosis?

H.Z.:  Advice is easy to give, but hard to take.  I think back to what I would have liked to have known when our journey started.  First, remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take time. There will be successes and struggles, try to remember to look at the forest and not the trees.  Educate yourself, so that you in turn, can educate others.  Make time for each child to have one on one time with their parent(s).  Make time for your spouse!  Read to your child(ren), even though your CAS child may not respond with the same verbal cues as the other child(ren).  Don’t assume that they do not understand the story.  There is an amazing person on the inside.  Don’t sell them short.Cover (with copyright notice)

Wow!  Thank you, Heather!  That was truly empowering.  We wish you and yourBack Cover with copyright (1) family much success with your book.  Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

**WINNERS ARE:  Tori S. of Georgia and Lorrie Mc of Ontario Canada.  Thank you ALL for your comments and loyal readership***

Now, it’s give-a-way time!  Heather has generously offered two complimentary copies of  “hi, My nAMe is MiLLY” to be given away to two lucky blog readers.  Here’s what you need to do:  Leave a comment either on this blog or by dropping  me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com.  The subject line:  Milly.  Your email needs to say how your family can benefit from the book.  Sorry, but Facebook comments will not be accepted.  Contest runs Monday, March 25th thru Friday, March 29th at 5pm.  Names will be drawn at random.  You will be contacted by email if you are the winner(s).  Kindly respond quickly with your mailing address, otherwise another name will be drawn. Your book will mail from Minnesota via US mail.

Apraxia Monday: Growing up with Apraxia

By Leslie & Kate Lindsay

Hi, my name is Kate.  I am seven years old and I’m in the 2nd grade.  I love to draw and play, especially outside.  I have a passion for building and creating things.  I am an inventor. kelly's 6th BD 2013 032

And I have apraxia.  That means it’s hard for me to get my thoughts out sometimes.  Big words are hard for me to say.  I need a lot of practice to talk like you do.

This is my mom.  Her name is Leslie.  I just call her “mom.”  She is also an author.  She wrote SPEAKING OF APRAXIA because she wanted to be able to help me and other kids with apraxia.  And their families.  Before she wrote this book, she was a nurse.  She really likes helping people.   (CAPTION:  Me and my sister with a puppy)

When someone asks me what apraxia is, I just tell them that it’s not serious.  I know you’ll probably roll your eyes like I do sometimes.  I bet you’re worried about apraxia.  That’s okay.  My mom used to worry, too when I was younger.  But you know what?  It’s not that big of a deal.  At least not to us kids. 

I used to go to speech therapy where I worked with my speech therapist, Miss Sylvia.  She made talking fun.  I love to move my body and she knows that.  So, we went to the gym at the speech clinic.  I got to go down the slide and each time I did, she would have me say “wheeee!”  After I went down the slide a few times, she had me do some speech work, like saying a tough phrase several times.  Then I got to go down the slide again. 

Sometimes I didn’t want to go to speech [therapy].  I’d get busy at home playing and mom would say, “Come on, Kate.  Time to go to speech.”  One day I asked her if speech had a drive-thru.  She laughed at that and said “No, but wouldn’t that be nice?”  The great thing about my mom is she made speech [therapy] fun.  I used to be able to pick a treat from a treat box after each time [speech session].  Sometimes, we would go to the park afterwards or she’d give me a piece of candy or something like that.Granny Day--100th day of 2nd grade 004  (CAPTION:  Me, all dressed up like a granny to celebrate the 100th day of 2nd grade) 

I will tell you when having apraxia (CAS) was hard.  Once, at a birthday party I didn’t know how to say ‘freeze’ when we played freeze tag.  I cried.  I wanted to play, but because that was a hard word for me, I couldn’t.  The other kids probably wouldn’t have cared that I couldn’t say ‘freeze,’ but to me—it mattered.

When I was a little younger, we went to see Santa at the mall.  I couldn’t even tell him what I wanted for Christmas.  But my little sister could.  My mom had a catalog and she showed the American Girl Doll to Santa.  Santa’s eyes got big and happy, “Oh yes!  I can do that.”  That made me feel better. 

Right now, it’s harder for me to read and write [compared to other kids my age who do not have CAS].  I have a special reading teacher at school because I have a hard time focusing on the words.  I learned to read a little later than some of my classmates.  When I write, I have a hard time getting my thoughts organized to come out in the right order.  But I am getting better. 

I know you are wondering if your son or daughter will be able to talk.  They will.  It just takes time.  And lots of practice.  They may not be as good at talking as you, but don’t worry.  They have lots of other really great things about them.  Just remember that. 

If you your child can’t talk much, find other things to do with them.  You can draw, bake, go for a walk or bike ride.  You can have tickle fights.  You can sit at Starbucks and sip a hot cocoa like me and my mom do sometimes.  You can do Irish Step Dance (or any other kind of dance)! Snow wall!! 2013 002

I know you have more questions about apraxia.  You should read my mom’s book.  It’s a big chapter book all about apraxia.  You can get it at Barnes & Noble and also Amazon.com.  If you like it, tell others about it. 

–Ta-ta for now!  Kate : )  (CAPTION:  This is my snow wall.  Love my gross motor!)

Bio:  Leslie Lindsay, R.N., B.S.N. is the author of the 2012 Reader’s Choice finalist SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012).  She is a former child/adolescent psychiatric nurse at the Mayo Clinic-Rochester.  Leslie is now a full-time writer at work on her first novel, an active blogger, www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com, and frequent contributor to several speech-related websites.  She devotes her free time to her two school-age daughters, Kate and Kelly and a spoiled basset hound, Sally.  Leslie is married to Jim Lindsay and resides in the Chicago area. 

That's me--the mom.

Apraxia Monday: Interview with Kimberly Scanlon, CCC-SLP

By Leslie Lindsay

Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

Special thanks to Kim Scanlon of Scanlon Speech Therapy in Ramsey, NJ and author of My Toddler Talks for joining us today.  She’s also mom of Kerrigan Grace (aka Kerri) who is 7 months old.  Without further adieu, here’s Kim!

L4K: Wow. I am just amazed at your energy.  You’re a mom, a speech-language therapist of a busy practice, and author of My Toddler Talks.  How do you do it all? 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP: I drink a lot of coffee and don’t sleep! Ha! To be honest, I really try to manage my time so I can do it all without becoming too stressed. Time management is key. The night before I go to sleep, I compose a very detailed to-do list. Then, I wake up the next morning, ready to tackle my day! Having my to-do list keeps me focused. It also helps that I love crossing off tasks as I complete them; gives me a sense of accomplishment.Professional Picture (300 dpi)

Additionally, I strongly believe in having routines because they keep my sanity. In My Toddler Talks, I write about the importance of routines and guide readers on how to create routines to facilitate language development in their toddlers.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I love what I do! After having a great speech therapy session, I feel energized! Treating my clients makes me happy. Additionally, my husband, Ryan is very supportive and I’m super lucky that my mom babysits, Kerrigan while I work. All in all, I’m very fortunate to have such a blessed life.

L4K: You have a wide variety of skills and experiences from Early Intervention to school-based SLP, and even a medical center working with geriatric patients.  Do you have a favorite population to work with?  I bet you learn a little something about every population. 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP:  I’ve had such wonderful and varied work experiences in my career. A very wise mentor once told me that you should try your hand in each population and seek different settings to find your niche. Currently, I primarily treat children; a majority of them are toddlers and preschoolers. Although, I like to have a diverse caseload because it keeps your perspective fresh.

L4K: I love your tagline, “making speech therapy fun and effective.”  What do you find are the keys to a fun and effective speech session? 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP:  Thank you, Leslie! Whether I’m treating adults or children, it’s important to keep things interactive and exciting. Discovering what motivates a client is critical to their success. By nature, I’m upbeat and a little zany so it’s pretty easy for me to turn even a structured task into something fun.

As for effective, I also have a type A personality and strive to do my best. I invest a lot of time and money into staying up-to-date on best practices. Using evidence based strategies, devising a good treatment plan and systematically targeting goals and objectives produce effective and efficient results.

L4K: Your post on Sandra Boynton’s Book, Snuggle Puppy (February, 2013) warmed my heart, as it did many others.  Can you give us some more tips on how to make reading with your child more engaging?  How does reading really help with speech and language development?Product Details

Kimberly, CCC-SLP: Thank you! I had so much fun writing my Snuggle Puppy post.

I can think of so many ways to make reading with your child more engaging and have written several posts about this topic on my blog. Creating a reading routine and picking a time when your child is most relaxed and focused is essential. For toddlers, choose books that he can relate to and read ones that mirror some of his own life experiences. For instance, using the potty or going to the zoo.   (image source: Amazon.com 3.10.13) 

There are so many ways reading helps with speech (articulation, voice, and fluency) and language (expressive and receptive skills). In fact, I could probably write another book on it! Books can easily be used to target very specific objectives. For articulation purposes, books can provide an enjoyable context to practice certain sounds. If a child is learning to say his “f” sounds and has progressed to the sentence level, reading books that have multiple opportunities for “f” is so much more engaging then doing worksheets! For language development, you can use books to target verbs, adjectives, prepositions, following directions, answering and asking various wh questions. And, the list goes on.

L4K: The concept behind your book, My Toddler Talks is to empower parents, grandparents and educators to promote language skills in kiddos through play.  What aspect of the book are you most proud of?  My Toddler Talks Book Cover (300 dpi)

Great question! There are so many parts of My Toddler Talks that I love (the 25 step-by-step play routines, the easy to remember acronyms, the troubleshooting tips, etc). I’m really proud of how well I transformed some complex “speechie” terms and concepts into something much more parent friendly and easy to digest. Of course, this book is not a replacement for speech therapy, but its hands on and helpful. I set out to design a workbook for parents to read with their highlighters and pens. One to make them think, “Yeah, I can do that! I’m going to try it tomorrow!”

My Toddler Talks is available for purchase at Amazon.  But…Kim has graciously offered to give-a-way a copy to one lucky reader.  (See below for detials). 

L4K:  Finally, what advice would you give to a parent who is raising a child with CAS? 

  • Seek out an ASHA certified and licensed speech language pathologist who is experienced in treating apraxia of speech.
  • For severe cases, teach the child some signs or how to use a picture book to reduce frustration and increase functional communication until his speech motor system further develops for speech.
  • Practice specific sounds or words in short but purposeful 10 to 15 minute bursts throughout the day.
  • Purchase Speaking of Apraxia by Leslie Lindsay! 
  • Last but certainly not least, give your child a break. He needs to have down time as well. Don’t push practicing if he’s tired, stressed, or not feeling well.

***Thanks, Kim for sharing your passion for speech!***

Now for the… Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-WayWant a free copy of Kim’s book, My Toddler Talks?  Of course you do!  Drop me a line (leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com) or make a comment on the blog about how this post “spoke” to you.  A U.S. winner will be drawn at random Friday, March 15th 2013 at noon CST.  You will be contacted via email if you are the winner.  Book will be mailed to you free of charge.

Help SPEAKING OF APRAXIA win in the READER’S CHOICE AWARDS!  You can VOTERCA 2013 Logo for the book every day now thru March 19th.  Just click on the link below.  THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!  http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2013/02/19/vote-for-favorite-new-special-needs-parenting-book-2.htm

Apraxia Monday: Interview with Melanie Feller, CCC-SLP

By Leslie Lindsay

I am excited to introduce Melanie Feller, CCC-SLP to “Apraxia Monday.”  Melanie’s article, “7 Common Myths of Childhood Apraxia of Speech” recently appeared on Special Education Advisor http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/7-common-myths-of-childhood-apraxia-of-speech-cas/ and featured on PediaStaff as a “Worth Repeating” article.  Melanie hails from New Jersey and is currently in Oregon for a professional opportunity.  She continues to practice pediatric speech-language pathology in both locations. 

L4K:  When and how did you get interested in the field of pediatric speech pathology?   Can you tell us a bit about your educational background?  How long have you been a practicing SLP?  (image source: http://www.upwardaz.org/speech-therapy/.  This is not a photo of Melanie or her practice.  The author(s) have no relationship with this company or individuals). 

Melanie, CCC-SLP: As a senior in college. I was a history major, interested in anything but history, and desperately worried about what I would go to graduate school for.  After discovering a book on graduate schools, I came across “communication disorders” in a list of majors, and decided to do some research.  The information I discovered spoke to me, and I went on an observation to see speech therapy in action.  And then I fell in love. Watching that speech pathologist work with a tiny three year old changed my life forever. 

I have a Masters degree from Kean University in Speech Language Pathology and have been practicing for 9 years

I specialize in CAS, as well as overall language delay and disorder and see clients of all ages, but primarily those from 0-12.   For the younger clients, my model is based on play therapy, and I use many aspects of Floortime within my sessions. I am looking forward to starting the Floortime certification process soon! The goal of my practice is to provide therapy that is effective, efficient, and most of all, fun and kind!

This treatment emphasizes emotional development.

L4K: Your area of interest and expertise has a lot to do with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). Can you tell us a little about your interest in such a complex speech disorder?  Do you have personal experience with apraxia?  (image source: http://specialedpost.com/2012/10/14/floortime-therapy-fosters-social-communication-in-kids-with-autism/ The author(s) have no known affiliation with Special Ed Post. For your information only).

My first experience with CAS came about in graduate school.  One of my first clients was a seven-year-old child who didn’t speak. No-one seemed to know why, and everyone had assumed he was unable to.  I remember thinking he demonstrated all the signs of a disorder I had recently learned about, and I thought it would be interesting to treat him as such (speech therapy for apraxia is, as you know, very specific) and see if I could be the one to get him to talk!  And the funny thing is, within a month, he started to use sounds, and within two months, he was using some words.  That’s how I first discovered the wonders of diagnosing and treating verbal apraxia, and it’s only taken off since then.  I find it endlessly fascinating and a joy to work with.  There’s something about watching someone literally learn how to move his mouth to form sounds, and how to coordinate that movement to produce strings of sounds that I find incredibly satisfying and fulfilling.

L4K: The early stages a parent experiences when first learning of their child’s CAS diagnosis can be very challenging.  How—and what—would you say to a parent just learning the diagnosis? 

Melanie, CCC-SLP:        

#1) I would say “Don’t Panic!!!!” That is the most important thing. Panic leads people to do all sorts of things, and that is not a good mentality when entering the world of treatment for CAS.

#2)  I would also offer that virtually every child can communicate in some manner, and no-one should be telling a parent that their child will never talk because he has CAS. That’s not just dishonest, it’s unreasonable. As SLP’s, we cannot make a final judgment as to what the outcome of therapeutic intervention will be. While we cannot offer false hope, we can also not say that there is no hope at all.

#3)  I would offer that it is important to ensure that the child received an accurate diagnosis. CAS is sadly frequently mis-diagnosed. Too many children are under (or over) diagnosed, leading to all sorts of issues.  Sometimes a second opinion is an excellent option.

L4K: With your article, “The 7 Most Common Myths of CAS,” which myth would you say is the most common? 

Melanie, CCC-SLP: I would say the most common [myth] is the first [one listed], that an expressive language delay must mean the child has CAS.    As I previously said, CAS is frequently under or over diagnosed, and as a result children with a simple expressive delay are being told they have a rather involved disorder, while those who have that rather involved disorder are told they’re just late talkers, and need to have just a little speech therapy (or maybe none at all) to be “ok.”

L4K: Your company, Alphabet Soup Speech (cute name, by-the-way), focuses on treating children (up to age 21) for speech/language disorders in a traditional in-person approach, but a large part of your practice is done remotely, a growing trend known as telepractice.  Can you tell us a little about how that evolved?  

Melanie, CCC-SLP: Thank you!  It first started when I discovered that many families were unable to obtain speech services due to time or distance constraints.  I had seen an article about telepractice, and realized that it would be great to be able to offer therapy remotely.  It’s also a wonderful option for me, as it allows me to see clients I might not normally have the time to see, or who might be too far away.

L4K: If someone was interested in telepractice (sometimes referred to as telehealth practice), how would they go about requesting those services?  Is it effective for everybody? 

Students work with Leah who is providing Speech services live from BGSU

Students work with Leah who is providing Speech services live from BGSU

(image source: http://wiki.hicksvilleschools.org/users/millerk/weblog/07401/Hicksvilles_Partnership_with_BGSUs_Speech_Telepractice_Program.html.  The author(s) have no known affiliation with Hicksville Schools or Bowling Green University.  For your informationation purposes only). 

Melanie, CCC-SLP: It can be a bit difficult to find. The best way may be to contact a particular therapist, and see if they offer that service. Many therapists that offer telpractice now list it on their websites as well When someone visits my website, they’ll see telepractice written, with a brief explanation. They can call via phone or email me to discuss their concerns for their child and I’ll make a determination as to whether or not teletherapy might be appropriate.  It works very well with children 6+. For younger children, I can provide parents with consultation services. If we agree that it’s a good fit, we can “meet” online and discuss their child’s particular needs.  The meeting also gives me an opportunity to watch the child communicate, and observe how the parent and child interact.   From that I can provide tips and ideas on how the family can work directly with the child.

Online parent education classes are also in the works! I anticipate that these will be very useful to individuals and small groups who want to learn more about milestones, ways to encourage language building, and red flags to watch out for; all while remaining in the comfort of their particular location.

L4K: What are some of your favorite parent-friendly resources for families walking the apraxia path? 

First off, be careful of just entering “apraxia” on a search engine! There’s lots of mis-information out there, and lots of information that seems to only serve to scare parents, and make them think they have a hopeless, never-ending situation on their hands! 

Some parent friendly resources:   

  • The ASHA (American Speech Language and Hearing Association) page on verbal apraxia offers honest, straightforward, and easy to understand information http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/childhoodapraxia.htm They also provide a practitioner search engine for the public. Enter your zip code and they’ll give you a list of ASHA certified speech pathologists in your area.
  • The Apraxia-Kids website offers lots and lots of information – it can be overwhelming at times but overall it’s a great resource.http://www.apraxia-kids.org/
  • Speaking of Apraxia (Woodbine House, 2012)  There aren’t a lot of good books out there that are accurate, and specifically speak of apraxia on a friendly level (i.e. not a textbook). I’d be interested to know from your readers if there are any books they like that I haven’t heard of!

L4K: Where can readers learn more about you?  Do you blog?  Have a website?  Facebook page?  Twitter account? 

Melanie, CCC-SLP: There are lots of ways! 

  • Website: alphabetsoupspeech.com  I am in the process of updating it and am looking forward to a “new and improved” site soon 
  • Facebook: Alphabet Soup Speech Consultants, LLC.
  • Twitter www.twitter.com@iloveofspeech
  • My blog is in the process of being revamped, and I will be blogging again by early springhttp://alphabetsoupspeech.blogspot.com/
    Photo: Life is not a destination...It's a Journey.<br /><br />
However, do n't expect everyone to understand your journey, especially if they've never walked your path.

Many thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Melanie.  Your time and expertise is much appreciated.  Best wishes on your journey!—Leslie : )


Apraxia Monday: Gnoming for Words

By Leslie Lindsay

Looking for some crafty things to do with your children during the winter months?  This one lends well to the spring season as you can make these Hobbit-inspired homes now, and then spray with that really great preservation stuff and place in a protected area of your yard/porch to attract little fairies and gnomes.  Perfect for that Irish-themed holiday right around the corner!  Photo_9374C75B-86B3-295A-836E-527655881F16 WP_001709 WP_001710

Now, don’t get wrong, this is not a how-to post on creating your own gnome homes, rather it’s a lesson on how to incorporate speech-language skills into your projects. 

          Rule #1:  You don’t have to be an artist.  Repeat that.  You don’t have to be an artist.      

          Rule #2:  It’s about the process, and not the finished art piece

          Rule #3:  Grab your child(ren). 

          Rule #4:  It’s okay to get messy, encouraged even.  (Wear old clothes or a smock)

          Rule #5:  Have fun!

Now for that part about how to incorporate speech work into your crafting.  For children of all ages and all skill levels, you can begin by just talking about what you are doing.  “Today, we are going to build gnome homes.  Do you know what a gnome is?”  Or how about, “Can you say gnome?” 

Got a tactile-learner? A kid who loves to dance? Or maybe your child really loves color? While every child has a constellation of sensory strengths (shape, color, movement and sound are just a few), your child probably has one or two that really stand out — that you notice in his or her artwork or in elements of his or her collections and activities.  Here’s how you may be able to those sensory strengths to gnome homes, or any other type of craft you attempt. 

  • Shape:  Ask your child for descriptive words related to their gnome home.  Is it tall?  Big? Flat?  Round? 
  • Sound:  “What do you suppose your gnome may hear at their home?”  Water trickling/rushing/splashing?  (Let’s practice making that sound), “How do you think a gnome talks?  Let’s try it.  Can you make your voice high-pitched or low-pitched?”  What are some other sounds in nature that may be heard at a gnome home? 
  • Color:  “What colors are you using?  Oh, green!  Look, I see gray and brown, too.”  Can you say ‘gray?’
  • Texture:  “Is that bumpy or smooth?  Can you say those words?”  “I am going to add a little texture to this door.”  Can you say the word texture? “I have some moss.  What does moss feel like?  Here, touch it.” 
  • Light:  If you could imagine what kind of light is shining on this gnome home, what colors would you pick?  Is it sunny or rainy?  Should we add sparkles to our house? 
  • Movement:  You may not be able to add much movement to your creation, unless you get mechanical and add a water wheel or something of that sort…but you can still incorporate movement in your crafting by having your child get up and retrieve a supply.  This works on receptive language, “Will you grab the glue/moss/rocks?” 
  • Extend the activity:  Now it’s time to do something different, but similar to your craft project.  Can you read a book to your child about gnomes?  Draw a picture?  Watch a movie that incorporates gnomes?  Here are a few to get your started. 

Here are couple of suggestions: 

  • Fairy Houses by Tracy KaneProduct Details (image source: Amazon.com 2.25.13)





  • Pinkalicious Fairy House by Victoria Kann Product Details(image source: Amazon.com 2.25.13)

For more how-to approaches look to: Product Details

Fairy Houses . . . Everywhere! (The Fairy Houses Series) by Tracy Kane and Barry Kane  (image source: Amazon.com 2.25.13)


Product DetailsThe Fairy House Handbook by Liza Gardner Walsh & Amy Whilton (image source: Amazon.com 2.25.13)



References: The Missing Alphabet, A Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids (Greenleaf Book Group, 2012). http:/www.themissingalphabet.com. Book available on Amazon.com and where books are sold.

Bio: Leslie Lindsay, R.N., B.S.N. is the author of the 2012 Reader’s Choice nominated SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012). She is a former child/adolescent psychiatric nurse at the Mayo Clinic-Rochester. Leslie is now a full-time writer at work on her first novel, an active blogger, www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com, and frequent contributor to several speech-related websites. She devotes her free time to her two school-age daughters, Kate and Kelly and a spoiled basset hound, Sally. Leslie is married to Jim Lindsay and resides in the Chicago area.

[Disclaimer:  This is a fun, speech-related activity you can do with your children.  Look for low-cost alternatives & supplies you may have on hand at home.  Glitter, glue, old beads, and buttons, rocks, sticks, and discarded jewelry.  The author of this post has no affilitation with the authors or their collected works on this page.  There is no monetary gain for this post.]