Tag Archives: apraxia of speech

Apraxia Monday: Interview with Melanie Feller, CCC-SLP

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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 : )

 
 

In My Brain Today: Reader’s Choice Finalist

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By Leslie Lindsay

It is with great pleasure, awe, and humility that I share fantastic news.  SPEAKING OF APRAXIA:  A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012) has advanced to the finalist stage of the Reader’s Choice Awards by About.com/Terri Mauro, mother and author.  Terri Mauro

(image source: http://specialchildren.about.com/od/readerschoice/tp/Readers-Choice-Favorite-New-Special-needs-Parenting-Book.htm.  Retrieved 2.21.13) 

When I decided to write this book, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) even was.  I was the one who wanted/needed the book, I certainly didn’t think I could write one!  Published by Woodbine House, a leader in special needs parenting books, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA is currently the only book on the shelves written exclusively on apraxia for parents.  Having the book reach the finalist stage of a nationally-known award is more than a dream come true. 

But I could use  your help.  Just as the award’s name suggests, obtaining the honor of the award is based solely on readers.  So, if you–your child(ren)–or your organization–have been touched by the book, childhood apraxia of speech, any speech disorder, Down’s syndrome, or any other bioneurological disorder, then please take a moment to vote.  It’s really very simple.  Just click on the link below and a mark your ballot for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA.  Readers' Choice Awards Logo

VOTE HERE!! http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2013/02/19/vote-for-favorite-new-special-needs-parenting-book-2.htm

You may be asked to sign-in via Facebook, personal email, or About.com.  You can vote once per day till March 19th.  The book with the most votes WINS.

And since you are curious, I will be honest:  the “prize” is *just* bragging rights.  That’s it.  No money, no personal gain on my part…just a great book that readers like and gain valuable information from. 

Your support and commitment would be much, much appreciated. 

***And that is what is in my brain today, Thurday February 21st 2013***

For more information, and to see the other finalists, look here:  http://specialchildren.about.com/od/readerschoice/tp/Readers-Choice-Favorite-New-Special-needs-Parenting-Book.htm

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

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By Leslie Lindsay

 

For mother Jeanne Buesser, apraxia has been near and dear to her heart.  Her son–now a senior in high school–and doing well–suffers from the neurologically-based motor speech disorder.  Jeanne is also the president of the nonprofit grassroots organization, Apraxia Network of Bergen County (New Jersey) and the author of He Talks Funny (Author House, 2010).  For more information, see Jeanne’s YouTube Channel: PSA’s, interviews, and more.   (image source: www.authorsden.com 2.11.13)

“All the children eventually reach the top of their mountain but each has a different way of getting there.”

 

Designed for parents, caregivers, teachers, and children with apraxia, Ms. Buesser indicates He Talks Funny was “an idea that just popped into my head one day.” She’s not a stranger to writing, though.  Her work had appeared in the Exceptional Parent Magazine, Parentguide Magazine, and also www.Parentpaper.com.  She also blogs regularly at http://jeannebuesser.com

He Talks Funny is a story about a young boy named Joey and his struggles with CAS, specifically about other children not being able to understand him, and as a result– not having very many friends.  When asked about this, Buesser indicates that she has never called apraxia, Childhood Apraxia of Speech ( emphasizing the childhood term)  simply because “as he got older, and into middle school the title was not appropriate…he’s now a senior [in HS] and understood about 98% of the time, but he does need to remember to articulate and put his thoughts together first.”  Product Details

So, this all boils down to bullying, in some regards.  Kids can be mean.  They can make nasty comments about how one speaks–or doesn’t.  In He Talks Funny,  you’ll a section called “circle of friends.”  Buesser recommends explaining to the principal or teacher the situation frst so there is not a stigma before the child is put into the classroom.  Also, she recomends “explaining CAS to parents of the other children so that everyone is on the same page.”  (image source: Amazon.com 2.11.13) 

Buesser’s message is clear:  As a parent, you have to be the one to step forward and educate others–but slowly.  “People are scared of things–scared often of the unknown.  They often don’t know how to approach people when it comes to things they aren’t familiar with, like apraxia.”  Buesser is also at work on developing a program with He Talks Funny in which the book would be incorporated into New Jersey Core Curriculum regarding bullying and also getting the book on the school’s recommended lists. 

 

And now for the give-a-way!  Jeanne has graciously provided a copy of He Talks Funny to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is share this page on your Facebook or Twitter account.  But you must let me know you did so (otherwise, I have no idea who to enter into the drawing).  Just shoot me an email leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com and say, “I shared the post.”  That will enter you to win a copy of this book, (valued at $12.49 on Amazon).   Drawing for one (1) winner will be held WEDNESDAY, FEB 13th.  Good Luck!!   WINNER IS….Rachel Williams!!  (Name drawn at random on 2.13.13).  This concludes the contest.  Thanks for all of those who entered. 

Apraxia Monday: It’s Yoga Time

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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.   Late Jan 2013 007

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? Kid's Yoga - Ages 3-7yrs (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.)

Where: Simplify Yoga 1050 Tiogue Ave, Coventry

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

COMING UP ON APRAXIA MONDAY:

  • 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. 

Special Announcement: Reader’s Choice Award for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA

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By Leslie Lindsay

I was overwhelmed with awe and pride earlier this week when my publisher contacted me to share SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012, www.woodbinehouse.com) had been nominated for a Reader’s Choice award.  RCA 2013 Logo

The idea of the book was born when my (then )2 1/2 year old daughter was diagnosed with apraxia of speech (CAS).  Being a bookish kind of gal, I wanted a comprehensive guide that would explain the ABC’s of apraxia.  I searched, and while I found some that satisfied my curiosty, I wanted more.  A writer at heart, my friends and close family encouraged me to write my own.  Fast-forward 5 years–the book has become a reality. 

And now it’s up for winning an award.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

But the book needs you!  From the The Readers’ Choice Awards website, “[This award] give us the opportunity to celebrate the special-needs resources that inform us, support us, inspire us, give us a laugh when we need it, and otherwise contribute to our ability to parent our kids with special needs and help our children shine.  Nominations begin January 14.”  Please, if you have been touched by SPEAKING OF APRAXIA, I urge you to pop over to the website to nominate it.  It’s really easy.  The more nominations it receives, the better chance it has of making the final cut. 

All you need to do is hop on to: http://specialchildren.about.com/u/ntn/readerschoice/RCA-Parenting-Book-2013/form.htm

Please provide your own reason as to why the book should win (limit of 300 characters including spaces). Nominations accepted through February 11. After finalists are selected, voting for the winner begins.

The About.com site is owned by the New York Times Company and managed by Terri Mauro, Terri Mauromother of two children with special needs: a 22-year-old with language-based learning disabilities and a 19-year-old with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, both adopted from Russia in 1994. She estimates that she has been to 32 IEP meetings over the course of 17 years of advocating for her kids, and celebrated her final one in the winter of 2012. (image and addtional text about Ms. Mauro obtained from http://specialchildren.about.com/bio/Terri-Mauro-13624.htm on 1.17.13)

Terri is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child’s Special Education and The Everything Parent’s Guide to Sensory Integration Disorder. Her website Mothers With Attitude, offering “humor and help for adoptive moms, special-needs moms, any old moms at all,” was recognized as a USA Today Hot Site and a Good Housekeeping Site of the Day. She has been working as a writer for more than 25 years, and has been an editor for Hallmark Cards, First for Women magazine, and Food and Wine cookbooks. You can read more about Terri’s work experience on her Google profile.

Apraxia Monday: Being Thankful

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By Leslie Lindsay

As I sit back and think of all of the things I am thankful this past year, I am particularly thankful for a 2nd grader who has come so far on her apraxia journey. 

It was nearly five years ago this month that we learned Kate had severe childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).  I was in complete and utter denial.  I didn’t know what apraxia was, let alone what it meant for my daughter–and the countless other children who also have the diagnosis. 

But I do now. 

It was 2007.  We were visiting with family in St. Louis for the holiday.  At the annual turkey dinner, I was chatting with one of my cousin-in-laws when she asked how the girls were doing.  She nodded, jutting her chin in their direction.  A mass of redheaded (2nd) cousins wrestled and played, appropriately so in the so-called “conversation pit” of the family’s ranch home.  Only Kate wasn’t conversing.  She was, in fact smiling and laughing and grunting.  She had no words.  Or, at least very few of them.

I pinched my lips into a tight line.  Her question rang through my head, “How are the girls doing?”  It was a benign-enough question, but I felt the backs of my eyes prick with the familiar burn of tears.  “No, don’t cry,” I scolded myself. 

I mustered up a lame-o, “Fine.” 

My cousin-in-laws eyes softened, her shoulders narrowed, “How’s her speech?” 

It was as if she knew.  My stomach flipped.  “We were just diagnosed with apraxia.” 

She nodded knowingly.  “All four of my boys have been in speech at some point.  We just celebrated the last one’s dismissal.  Ten years of speech therapy.  I even got a certificate for all of the time I carted them there.” 

Wait.  What was that?  All four of her children had been in speech therapy at some point in their childhood?  How could that be?! 

I didn’t know what to make of that.  I asked her point-blank, “Did any of them have apraxia?” 

She shook her head.  I felt anxious.  “But there’s a lot that can be done.  We loved our speech pathologist.  Did great things with the boys.” 

Meanwhile, the giggles and grunts from the conversation pit ensued.  Their waves of red bobbed up and down.  Kate approached me and signed “more” for Doritos.   She was having the time of her life and it really didn’t matter if she could talk with her 2nd cousins, or not.  They got it.  They didn’t need words.  Instead they were happy playing tag and tap dancing on the wood floor. 

Fast-forward five years.  We have had amazing speech pathologists (SLPs), occupational therapists (OTs), caring preschool and kindergarten teachers, and now a little girl who can communicate quite well. 

And a book.  For you, for me, for our children. 

You see, as a mother-turned-author, I knew in my heart that my children were a gift.  They may not be completely perfect but that doesn’t matter.  They gave me  ability to love, to understand, to question, to learn. 

And that, it what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

Say that Again?! Green Eggs and Ham with a side of Apraxia

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By Leslie LindsayStack of books. (image source: http://www.lacrosselibrary.org/index.asp)

[This post previously ran over the summer.  Here it is again in case you missed it.] 

I don’t know about you, but I love books.  I love kids.  And when one combines the love for children and literature, what often results is the abundance of words. And perhaps the proud moment of announcing, “Hey—she can read!” a year of two ahead of schedule. 

But not if you have a child with apraxia.*

And so we read.  As parents we read parenting books about late-talking children.  We read about speech development and ways to stimulate our child.  We read books to Kate.  Simple board books by Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton that had the happy cadence of alliteration and rhyme.  We pointed out illustrations in the book, “Oh, look-y here…can you see the birdie?  Can you say bird?”  We engaged in dialogic reading with our daughter, “What do think will happen next?”  And nothing. 

Sure, she understood everything we said, even the hard words.  We could tell because she would be able to perform simple directions like, “go get your shoes, we’re going for a walk.”  But still, nothing.  At least not any expressive language.  

Kate was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), a neurologically- based motor speech disorder in which kids know what they want to say, yet they can’t coordinate the complex movements required to speak intelligibly. She was 2 ½ years old.  What resulted instead was a lot of pointing and gibberish. 

Fast-forward five years, and you will see that Kate has overcome a considerable challenge.  She is now a normally-speaking soon-to-be 2nd grader.  Sure, there were struggles and years of speech therapy. 

Our speech-language pathologist (SLP), mentioned that children with CAS have a particularly difficult time with identifying and composing rhymes.  Why exactly this is, is speculative.  Some say it has to do with the overall motor circulatory of the brain, the “wiring,” if you will; or the abstract arrangement of sounds and letters, perhaps it’s the mind-body connection, or simply being a visual versus auditory learner…in any case, it’s a challenge. 

But just this past week, we pulled out Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.  My husband handed the shiny orange book to Kate at bedtime,** “Here, you read this one.”  She looked at her daddy with wide eyes, “You can do it,” he coaxed. green-eggs-and-ham (image source: http://www.rainiervalleypost.com/weekend-update-first-friday-swing-dancing-dr-seuss-more/green-eggs-and-ham/)

She sucked in a deep breath and rolled her lips into a tight line, “I am Sam,” she began

My eyes welled with tears.  Her voice a little choppy (prosody is something she will likely always struggle with), a few stumbles here and there, and a long pause about half-way through, I cheered her on in my mind.  Finally, she sighed, “I can’t do it anymore.”  We egged her on (sorry, couldn’t resist), “Yes.  You can do this.”  (We ended up alternating pages.  Reading aloud can be very taxing for children with apraxia). 

And you know what?  She read that whole book. Say, I do like reading and rhyming, Kate-I-am.  (*Commonly known as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), or “dyspraxia of speech” in the U.K. and elsewhere.  **In retrospect, it would have been best to have Kate attempt a challenging rhyming book at a time of day when she is likely to be more alert).  

   Cheerleader (image source: http://www.spaghetti-legs.com/servlet/the-74/Zippered-Tote-with-YOUR/Detail)

TRY IT AT HOME:

  • Remember, you are your child’s cheerleader.  Let them know you care and support them, but don’t make it too easy.  Challenging your children to the point of feeling slightly uncomfortable is okay.  It means they are growing (and you are, too)
  • Get yourself to the library.  Ask a children’s librarian for some simple rhyming books.  Even if they seem a little “baby-ish,” read them to and with your child with apraxia.  Practice, practice, practice!  (Some titles to look for, There’s a Closet in My Woset by Dr. Seuss, ‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten (1st grade edition also available) by Natasha Wing, BOB books).
  • Remember, there is a difference between rhyming books (cat and mat) and  predictable/repetitive books (it’s pretty clear that you know what will happen next; the same phrase pops up every few lines (Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown) and wordless books (there is no text; you and your child create your own story as you study the illustrations; Good Dog, Carl byAlexandra Day) and cause and effect books (If You Give a…. series by Laura Numeroff) All types of books are important to a child with CAS. 
  • Extend your reading activity to make it whole-body experience.  Act it out (as in charades), whip up a batch of green eggs and ham or some chocolate chip cookies.  Have your child draw a picture or make her own “book” related to what you just read. 

SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012) covers many of these ideas in chapters 10 & 11). 

Bio: Leslie Lindsay is former child/adolescent psych R.N. at the Mayo Clinic-Rochester. She is the mother of two school-aged daughters and a basset hound, named Sally. Lindsay and her family reside in the Chicago suburbs where she writes full-time. She is the author of “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents’ Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech” (Woodbine House, March 2012). Read more on her blog, “Practical Parenting…with a Twist” where she writes about apraxia, parenting, education, and more 5 days a week, www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com

 

Say that Again: Apraxia…You just Gotta Practice

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By Leslie Lindsay

(image source: Shutterstock.com)  Norwegian researchers have devised a new way of creating a child-like synthetic voice for ...

Over the summer, I was a  guest blogger on Haley’s blog, “Say What, Y’all?”  Not only do I love the title of her blog, being a former Missourian myself, but I can totally relate to having said this euphemism so many times in my “career” of being an “apraxia mom.”  Here it is again for those of you who may have missed it: 

You won’t soon forget her.  The red hair and blue eyes the size of saucers will linger in your memory.  So, too will the fact that she is as fire-y and energetic as that copper hair that cascades down her back, framing her freckled face with possibility. 

And when you hear her speak, you may have an inkling that she once suffered from moderate to severe childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), or you may be none the wiser. Although Kate is a bright, creative, and eager soon-to-be 2nd grader, she has overcome a road block most of us never have to deal with: a struggle to communicate expressively. 

I won’t bore you with the early days of suspicion and diagnosis and our first experiences with an SLP, but I will give you just a teensy bit of background:  Kate didn’t say much of anything—expect a friendly “hi”—for the first 2 ½ years of her life.  She was diagnosed with CAS at that time and began an extensive speech therapy regime 2-3 times a week for about 2+ years.  She is speaking  just fine now—with a few minor backslides here and there. 

When I was in the midst of writing, “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech,” (Woodbine House, March 2012), I developed and facilitated a small parent education group called “Small Talk:  All About Apraxia” in the Chicagoland suburbs.  I wanted to connect with other parents also walking the apraxia path, hear their ideas and dilemmas, and facilitate their journey.  On one occasion, I brought Kate along.  Actually, she asked to join me!

“Mom, can I go to your [a]praxia group?”  She inquired one afternoon.

I shrugged and bit the inside of my cheek, “Well, I guess so.” I replied.  “But it might be a little boring for you…a bunch of mommies talking about apraxia…” 

“I don’t care.  I want to hear what you’re talking about,” she replied. 

And so she came.  But, beforehand, I asked her to think about what she might say to these parents.  She pondered that a moment and then rushed off to her room where she sat at her desk drafting out a speech.  She presented it to me just before we headed out that evening.  It read:

“I have upraxea [apraxia].  It is not seryous [serious].  All you have to do is practis [practice] your words more.  Don’t wory [worry].  Your kids will be ok.” 

Pride coursed through my veins.  I hugged my daughter and praised her for being able to communicate her thoughts on the disorder that has plagued her for most of her life.  It’s not every child who has that insight at her age. 

Once at our “Small Talk” meeting, I introduced Kate to the group.  The mommies smiled encouragingly as she read from her paper in stilted English, much like we might if we were visiting a foreign country and reading from a Berlitz book.  They beamed and applauded afterwards, some even dabbing their eyes. 

You see, it took a lot of courage for her to come to the group that evening and speak to a group of adults she didn’t know about something so intimate and close to her—to us as a family.  I couldn’t have been more proud. 

As usual, she was one to something.  Having apraxia really just means that one needs to practice speaking more than others.  While I don’t want to oversimplify things—it’s hard, long practice—but if we as parents can reframe the diagnosis of CAS to “a-word-practicing-disorder,” we may have a lot less stress and anxiety.

Today—literally—we were talking about some words that are troublesome for Kate.  She said, “I can’t really say shoulder.  It sounds like soldier.  And what’s a scone, anyway?  You mean cone, right?”   As a family, we laughed—we agreed—there are some words that are hard to say.  But if you practice them, you just might learn to say them. 

“ Apraxia.  You just gotta practice.”  –Kate L. 

Bio

Leslie Lindsay is a former child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic. It is because of her daughter that Leslie wrote the first book designed for parents on this complex neurologically-based motor speech disorder.  Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech(Woodbine House, 2012) is as much as labor of love as it is a resource to help others along their apraxia journey.  She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two daughters, and a basset hound where she writes full-time. She is currently at work on a women’s fiction novel.  Follow her blog, www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com
“Practical Parenting with a Twist” in which she writes 5x/week on apraxia, education, parenting, and the writer’s life.

Apraxia Monday: A Gossip Columnist Shares “Speaking of Apraxia”

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By Leslie Lindsay

(image source: http://socialtimes.com/another-online-newspaper-ventures-into-socal-shopping_b43352)

Talk of the Town: Gossip Queen & Child Development Expert Answers your Most Pressing Questions.

Today’s Topic: Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

Saturday, September 24, 2012

Dear Miss Talks-a-Lot: 

Argh!  I am so frustrated.  My 3 year old son has so much difficulty talking.  It’s like he knows what he wants to say, but he can’t quite get the words out. Everything else [developmentally] seems to be right on target, yet he just jibbers and gestures.  What could be going on? 

–Frustrated in ColoradoRocky Mountains(image source: http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/wyoming/rocky-mountains)

The Rocky Mountains plus the rugged beauty of Wyoming add up to

Dear Frustrated in Colorado:

It sounds like your son may be suffering from Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), this neurologically based motor speech disorder is characterized by the inability to connect thoughts with verbal output.  It’s as though the child knows what he wants to say, he just cannot coordinate the muscles of articulation with his brain. Often, kids with CAS will gesture or create their own words and phrases to get their needs met.  Your best bet would be to have him evaluated by a qualified speech-language pathologist(SLP) who has a background in childhood apraxia of speech. From there, you will receive an official diagnosis, a treatment plan, and suggestions for next steps.

Dear Miss Talks-A-Lot:

I have heard of this new book, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA and wonder what your thoughts are? 

–Curious Mom in Missouri

Dear Curious:                       

So glad you asked! SPEAKING OF APRAXIA was recently published by Woodbine House, a leader in producing quality special needs books for parents, professionals, and caregivers since 1985.  It is my understanding that it is the first non-academic book designed exclusively on the subject of CAS. Written by mom and former child/adolescent psychiatric RN from the Mayo Clinic, this book embodies everything the author, Leslie Lindsay thought about, worried about, and learned about during her course of raising a daughter with CAS. She wanted a book when her daughter was diagnosed, but was disappointed in the options available.  Plus, she wanted to help others walking the same path.  SPEAKING OF APRAXIA truly is a labor of love. It has received national and international recognition from SLPs, parents, and educators. A Georgia-based parent says: 

“A comprehensive encyclopedia on childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) & self-help book for both parent and child. In addition to having over 400 pages full of facts, Leslie chronicles bits & pieces of her own daughter’s journey with apraxia.”

Anita, a speech-pathologist in Sao Paulo, Brazil shares, “Few professionals know Apraxia. Many children are without diagnosis, teachers and educators and parents completely unaware. I bought your book and loved it, it is very practical and thorough and sure I can use with parents of my patients….surely, it will be very useful for all children with Apraxia.”

Dear Ms. Talks-a-Lot:

All this talk about SPEAKING OF APRAXIA—why should I read this book over others that are available on late-talking children? 

–Wondering Why in Wyoming

Dear Wondering:

SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) is the most comprehensive book available on the subject of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), hands down! The author, Leslie Lindsay not only lived apraxia for over 4 years, but she read, researched, and facilitated her own support/education groups with parents of children with CAS.  Extracting from her life experiences and weaving in research, expert opinion, charts, and other graphics, she takes readers from suspecting a problem to family and child coping, advocating/networking, and beyond.  There is an appendix that covers co-morbid conditions such as autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and more.  You’ll also find information on navigating the educational systems, how to help your child at home and so much more.  Truly a book that should be on every parent—and SLP’s bookshelf, as parent in Kentucky shares, “I REALLY really enjoyed the book. [Ms. Lindsay] went above and beyond, really. …I sincerely believe this is MUST READ for so many!” –Parent in Kentucky.

An SLP in Chicago,“I have read the book & I love it! [Ms. Lindsay] did a great job writing as an informed parent. I just adore [Lindsay’s] writing style and point of view. I’m confident that it will be a resource for parents nationwide.”–Amy, CCC-SLP

[this is a mock newspaper article written by the author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Woodbine House, 2012.  The quotes are real, but names have been changed to protect privacy.  SPEAKING OF APRAXIA is available through the publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (in-store and on-line).] 

Bio:  Leslie Lindsay is a mom and writer.  She lives in suburban Chicago with her children, husband, and basset hound.  She is at work on her next book, a novel.  You can follow Leslie on Twitter, @Leslie1, read her blog, “Practical Parenting with a Twist,” www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com, and visit her Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084?ref=hl

 

Apraxia Monday: ABCs & CAS (Why Reading is Hard, How YOU Can Help)

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By Leslie Lindsay abc_book.gif

We know that having children with CAS presents a different set of challenges.  From not being able to commuicate clearly to learning to read, seems there is always something we need to help our little people with . 

Learning to read with CAS is topic that is often up for discussion.  Why is it so darn hard for these kiddos to learn to read?  And what can you do to help your child? 

Why Is Reading Difficult for Children with CAS?  Kids with apraxia have several problem areas to consider when reading comes into the picture:

  1. Kids who aren’t making sounds accurately (or at all) may have a decreased visual representation of what letters look and sound like.

 

  • Kids with speech-language disorders may have a distorted sense of what the symbols (letters) represent (letters are symbols which represent words).

 

  • Kids with apraxia may have “differently-wired” brains, affecting the way they read, learn, and interpret information.

 

  • Children affected with CAS may have a decreased ability to coordinate the vocal track in producing a word. 

When it comes to reading comprehension, researchers say that some kids with apraxia and other learning difficulties lack the appropriate strategies to allow them to understand what they just read. It’s complicated. Reading requires a lot: decoding words, visualization, understanding context, activating prior knowledge, a large vocabulary, and the ability to comprehend what you just read. For example, if a kid has to work really hard to understand (decode) the words on the page, then he may not have much energy left over for defining an unfamiliar word.

And now…how you can help! 
 (image source http://catholicblogger1.blogspot.com/2010/06/parent-involvement-in-ccd.html)

  • Read wordless books (Or have your child illsutrate her own). Don’t disregard books that have no print. They are important in getting kids to be the storyteller. Each time a child “reads” a wordless book, the story changes slightly. Of course, this may be harder to do if your child isn’t saying much. But the more you present the book, the more he will attempt.  
  • Engage in dialogic reading. What this means is you stop and ask your child questions about the book you are reading. “Oh, look. I see a little girl who is ready to go to school. She has a backpack. Can you say ‘backpack?’ What else do you see?”
  • Read riddles.Look for a riddle book the next time you are at the library. Great for long car rides or an after-dinner family activity. Riddles provide good exposure to, and practice with, the nuances of language.  Riddles also help develop a rich vocabulary and improve reading comprehension.
  • Explore letters and sounds.Develop a “Letter Center” at home if you have the space. Supply it

    with magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles, sponge letters, foam letters, sticker letters, rubber letter stamps, clay/Play-Doh and cookie cutters shaped like letters, and perhaps even computer software that focuses on the alphabet. In the same area, it may be a nice extension to offer different types of literacy materials: catalogs, labels, newspapers, empty cereal boxes, recipe cards, junk mail, and greeting cards. If it has print on it, it counts! 

  • Clap it out. You may want to start with a simple adaptation of clapping out syllables. Say, “I am going to clap my hands in a pattern. Repeat after me.” Then clap out a simple little sequence. Your child is listening to the rate and pattern of your claps. He should repeat it back to you. You can modify to add jumping or stomping in lieu of clapping. 
  • Play the “Letter a Day” game. Pick a letter and have it be the focus of your day. “Today we are going to focus on the letter B. Let’s see how many letter Bs we can find. Let’s try to say words that begin with the letter B. But first, let me show you what the letter B looks like.”  Everywhere you go, point the letter out in its uppercase and lowercase form. Practice making the /ba/ sound. Make a collage with the letter B. Play ball and say B words as you bounce or roll it to each other.  
  • Shop at home. Give your child a shopping bag. On the bag, write or attach a letter. Tell him to go around the house and collect things in his bag that begin with that letter sound. Talk about what he shopped for together. 
  • Make a name collage. Start by writing your child’s name on a large sheet of construction paper. Then look in old magazines and catalogs for items that start with the sound of his first name. Steven=stove, stop, stick, stone, stay, story. Let your child do some of the work.
  • Match letters to toys. Grab a few of your child’s favorite toys. Spread them out on the floor and make your own alphabet cards, making sure that you include some “correct” as well as “incorrect” cards. For example, say your grouping of toys consists of ball, doll, car, puzzle, and jump rope. Your alphabet cards would include the letters Bb, Dd, Cc, Pp, Jj. Throw in a couple of random letters as well, Rr, Zz, Hh. Have your child match the correct card to the correct toy. Practice saying the name of the object, as well as the sound the letter makes with your child.
  • Does this rhyme? Play this simple game in the car, in a waiting room, or even in the grocery story. Say, “I am thinking of three words. They are cat, bat, and ball. Which words rhyme?”

Be sure to check out and LIKE the FACEBOOK PAGE for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA.  Updated regularly with hints, tips, ideas, blogs, and more.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084?ref=hl 

[This above was a modified excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Woodbine House, 2012. Like what you read here? Get the book! Available thru Amazon, B&N, and the publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com]