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: It’s Yoga Time

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


  • 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. 

Apraxia Monday: Interview with Cari Ebert, CCC-SLP

By Leslie Lindsay

Today I have a special guest interview, Cari Ebert, CCC-SLP of Summit Speech Therapy and fellow speechie blogger.  Thanks a bunch for taking the time to chat with us, Cari.  We are excited to learn speech tips and tricks for the early childhood set from someone who is so well-versed (sorry, couldn’t resist), in the field.  Let’s start by getting to know you a bit. (image source: http://www.blogger.com/profile/06868042271330481283.  Reetrieved 1.21.13)

My Photo

L4K: When and how did you get interested in the field of pediatric speech pathology?  Is it something that has always been an interest of yours, or did it evolve along with your academic career? 

CE, SLP: I actually started my career working with adults in long-term care.  I worked in skilled nursing facilities and had a special interest in patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. After having my first daughter, however, I was so amazed watching her grow and develop that I switched gears, and became a pediatric speech-language pathologist.   I now work primarily in early intervention (EI) with the birth to three population.  The primary purpose of EI is to empower parents by increasing their confidence and competence in facilitating their child’s development.  Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher which is why I believe so strongly in the power of early intervention. 

L4K: Can you tell us a bit about your educational background?  How long have you been a practicing SLP? 

CE, SLP: I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa (Go Hawkeyes!) in 1993 and my graduate degree at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (Go Salukis!) in 1995.  I have been a speech-language pathologist for 17 years and have specialized in early intervention for 12 of those years.      

L4K: Do you have any tips for aspiring SLPs?  Keep an open mind about whether you want to work with adults or kids. 

CE, SLP: Depending on where you at in your life, your interests may change over time.  Also, be sure to shadow a few therapists in different settings before you declare your major in school.  You will pour blood, sweat and tears into this degree so be sure it is the one for you! 

L4K: Your area of interest and expertise has a lot to do with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).  In fact, you lecture on and treat children with CAS.  Can you tell us a little about your interest in such a complex speech disorder?  Do you have personal experience with apraxia—did you or your own children struggle with the disorder? 

CE, SLP: Over the years I have evolved into an apraxia therapist and I strive to help families of very young children who are late to talk.  Early on, when a child is essentially non-verbal, I look for characteristics or “red flags” that make me suspect childhood apraxia of speech as the cause for the lag in expressive language and speech development. 

Because most of the toddlers I see in therapy don’t even know they have lips or a tongue (literally!), we start the therapy process by increasing the child’s awareness of his articulators, and progress from there.  I do have personal experience with apraxia as well.  My 8 year old son has autism and apraxia and he has taught me more about my profession than any book I have ever read and any course I have ever taken.  I love to learn and apraxia is such a complex disorder, that it keeps me on my toes!  (image source: http://pathways.org/pathways-center/services/speech-therapy/.  This is not an image of Cari Ebert, CCC-SLP)  Speech Therapy L4K: As you are well-aware, CAS is a challenging disorder/diagnosis.  What would you tell a parent who is suspecting CAS?  How do you usually give  the diagnosis? 

CE, SLP:  CAS is a SPEECH disorder, not a LANGUAGE disorder.  That means the child must actually have speech before it can be diagnosed.  Too many SLPs are mis-diagnosing and over-diagnosing CAS in non-verbal toddlers.  In young children under age 3, I recommend SLPs give the diagnosis of “suspected childhood apraxia of speech” until the child is verbal and the diagnosis can be confirmed

CAS is a dynamic disorder and speech characteristics can change over time with appropriate therapy and neurological maturation.  I usually don’t focus too much on the label in the beginning stages of therapy.  I am eager to help the child find his or her voice and experience some much needed success early on in the process.  This is so important because success breeds confidence (“I think I can”), which helps the child become a communication risk-taker (“I’m willing to try new things”).   

Becoming a communication risk-taker is crucial to building both competence and confidence.  I encourage parents to revel in the small achievements that their child makes, because all of those baby steps eventually equal a major milestone.  Progress will not be rapid and I am sure to remind parents of this because every parent will get frustrated at some point in the therapy process. 

L4K: What are some of your favorite parent-friendly resources for families walking the apraxia path?  (websites, clinics, books, groups, etc.) 

Computer References

CE, SLP:  I encourage parents not to google apraxia because I want to be sure the information obtained is accurate and beneficial.  Three of my favorite websites are:  www.apraxia-kids.org; www.kidspeech.com; and www.cherabfoundation.org.  My two favorite parent friendly books are The Late Talker by Marilyn Agin and Speaking of Apraxia by Leslie Lindsay–what an awesome resource! 

Along with these resources, I have personally created a hierarchy of developmental skills that need to be addressed in therapy to ensure success.  I also think finding or creating a support group can reduce the stress and anxiety that goes along with raising a child with special needs.  The support group I started about 6 years ago is called H.U.G.S. which stands for Helping, Understanding, Guiding, Supporting.  It has been a lifeline for me as I take this journey into the unknown. 

One thing is for sure, we need each other and we don’t have to do it alone!  Being with a group of people who understand my plight, strengthen me when I am down, and revel in my child’s successes has been priceless. 

L4K: Can you tell us more about your clinic, Summit Speech Therapy, LLC.  Do you have a website?  Are you actively taking new clients? 

CE, SLP: Because very young children learn best in their natural environment (home, daycare, etc.), I travel to the child instead of having the child come into a clinic.   I office out of my home and spend my days commuting from one family’s home to the next.  I do consult with families “long distance” via email, phone, & Skype.  Many parents send me videos of their child and I give them my thoughts and analysis based on what I observe.  Occasionally I have families who choose to come spend a few days here in Kansas City where I can consult with them in person. 

As I mentioned before, I strongly believe that parents are a child’s most important teacher, and it is always my goal to coach the parents on how to best facilitate their child’s development.  I recognize that young children learn differently than older children and my therapy style reflects this. 

L4K: I understand you blog as well.  How long—and what is your goal—with blogging? 

CE, SLP: I am not a techno-savvy person, but I decided to start blogging about 6 months ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and was unable to work.  Through blogging I was able to stay in touch with my profession and my clients and I know this helped me fight my battle. 

My blog website is www.learning-through-play.com My goal in blogging is to help parents and professionals understand how important play is in the development of young children.  You see, very young children do not learn best through flash cards and drill work.  Rather, they learn best through play that is relevant and meaningful to their life.  Too often, therapy with young children is ineffective because therapists are trying to utilize inappropriate therapy methods. 

Roman road in Hashofet creekL4K: One piece of sound advice for the road?  

CE, SLP: One thing I say frequently when I present is that talking does NOT start at the mouth.  A child must possess strong gross and fine motor imitation skills first because a child must imitate what we do before he or she will ever imitate what we say.  Too frequently SLPs put the cart before the horse and start trying to teach the child to talk, when in fact, the child may not even be able to motor plan gross and/or fine motor movements. 

WOW–what a bunch of great information, Cari.  Thank you so very much for offering your time and expertise to “Apraxia Monday.”

Leslie, I want to thank you for your time and commitment to helping parents understand more about apraxia!  And good luck to all your readers and their small talkers!

Apraxia Monday: Bounce Your Way to Words

By Leslie Lindsay

Trampoline Mats
This past weekend we took our daughters to an indoor giant trampoline facility.  Aside from the fact that this was good, wholesome family fun–and exercise–it dawned on me just how powerful jumping is for the speech-language centers of our brain.  Call it vestibular stimulation or gross motor work, or whatever but it does something to jump-start (okay, couldn’t resist), our speech and language. 

Although we are no longer dealing with CAS in the instensity or severity we once were, I truly did see a change overcome Kate (now 7.9 years and in 2nd grade) as she boinged and bounced around the trampolines.  Her mind was present and engaged; she giggled as though there was no tomorrow, and she initiated a game of “mimic me.”  It went like this, “Okay, mom…I am going to do what you do [on the trampoline].”  And she did.  Not that I was all that innovative (or limber) on the giant stretchy material.  But sure, I did some seat-drops, high-knees, and straddles.  She did them all.  I counted and completed repetitions of exercises…say 10 seat-drops in a row and she watched, repeating what I had done.   

Now how does all of this relate to speech and language, you ask?  Bear with me. 

  • It helps organize thoughts
  • Kate’s  mimic game has a lot to do with turn-taking in coversations.  You speak, I speak.  We both listen (hopefully)…and observe. 
  • It gives kids a *boost* of confidence
  • Little talking is really required to jump on a trampoline.  It just takes a little skill and stability…even so, it’s still a ton of fun, and sure to elicit some smiles and giggles (which is a precursor to speech and language)
  • You can sneak in speech drills with trampolines, too…as you bounce along, quiz your child on words/phrases/sounds he is working on in speech therapy. 
  • Play I’m-gonna-get-you…and run about the trampolines.  When you “catch” each other, say a troublesome word/sound/phrase. 

Our experience wasn’t exactly cheap (about $10/per person) and I wouldn’t advise going to pricey indoor play gyms like this one all the time (or in lieu of speech therapy by a trained and qualifed SLP), but for an out-of-the-house experience, you and your family can have a fun and healthy time while sneaking in a little speech-langauge work.  And please use caution–as you would with any physical activity or sport.  Trampolines, if not used correctly can cause serious injury. 

For more tips & information on ideas like this (those involving gross motor, and the science behind it), please refer to chapter 8 in SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to CAS (Woodbine House, 2012).

Happy New Year!!

By Leslie Lindsay RGB Happy New Year 2013 HD Wallpaper(image source: http://www.okwalls.com/rgb-happy-new-year-2013-hd-wallpaper/rgb-happy-new-year-2013-hd-wallpaper/)

  • Happy 2013!!  I’m Leslie–a mom, wife, blogger, basset hound lover, and author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012).  The book was most definitetly a labor of love as my oldest daughter–now 7 1/2 years–and doing great–struggled with CAS.  There’s also a companion Facebook page for the book.  Check it out here:  http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084 Are you also walking the CAS path?  A pediatric SLP?  Follow along on “Apraxia Mondays.”  Have ideas for this segment of the blog?  Want to be featured as an “apraxia parent?”  Would you like to highlight some of your SLP achievements, tips, and ideas as a guest blogger?  Just shoot me an email or leave a comment.  leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com

Write on, Wednesday:  Imagine a Better Writer

  • I am feverishly working on my second book–a novel (women’s fiction), which is a big shift from my first book.  You’ll see glimpses of this work-in-progress on my “Fiction Friday” blogs.  And since I write, I read.  You may benefit from that , as I often get inside scoops on the next up-and-coming books and authors.  Sometimes I post author interviews, tips & tricks for writing from conferences, and more.  You’ll see some of that popping up on “Write On, Wednesday!”  If you’d like  your work or tips featured, just send me an email leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com

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  • As a mom of two busy little girls–Kate (2nd grade, 7+ years) and Kelly, (full-day kindergarten, almost 6 years), and so that means I am pretty crazy about education and raising girls, developing self-esteem, raising their confidence, and more.  You’ll find related posts on “The Teacher is Talking,” which typically runs on Tuesdays.  Got some inside scoop you’d be willing to share?  Are you a teacher or educator?  Do you care about 6c (1)children’s self-esteem?  Do you have a book you want highlighted on this topic?  You guessed it–send me an email or post a comment! (leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com)


I am excited to embark on my 4th year of blogging.  I couldn’t do it without you, dear readers.  Best wishes to you and yours in 2013. 

Apraxia Monday: So this is Christmas

By Leslie Lindsay  (image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yarnattacks/5222187096/)

    Welcome to the last “Apraxia Monday” for the 2012 calendar year.  I hope it’s been a good one…

    As I was baking bread earlier today, this song by John Lennon was playing.  It’s twang and rhyme was a bit lolling and I found myself caught in an insightful moment.  “The near and the dear one…the old and the young…and what have you done?”  Chances are, if you are a parent of a child with CAS, then you have done a lot for your dear young one.  As you take a moment to reflect back on your child and his progress throughout the past year, what comes to mind? 

    • The first time she got on the bus, turning to you to smile and wave one last time before the bus drove off?
    • A break-through sound/word/phrase?  One year, for us it was the ST-blend.  What a fun accomplishment!
    • When she recited her poem in language arts without a blip–gestures and props a plus.
    • When he could finally request that he wanted Buzz Lightyear and not just point to him high on the shelf.
    • Instead of just panting like a dog to show her excitement at the new puppy, she actually said, ‘puppy.’ 
    • When your SLP told you that she and your child had a “wonderful session.” 
    • When his teacher mentioned that your son is the best circle time leader.
    • When she told you she loved you for the very first time.

    While I know your apraxia journey is on-going, I wish you all the best along the way.  For now, the war is over.  Let the magic of Christmas begin.  Happy Holidays and all the best in 2013! 

    Oh, and here are those lyrics! 

    So this is Christmas
    And what have you done
    Another year over
    And a new one just begun
    Ans so this is Christmas
    I hope you have fun
    The near and the dear one
    The old and the young

    A very merry Christmas   
    Fab Four - Part 1 (John LennonAnd a happy New Year
    Let’s hope it’s a good one
    Without any fear
    And so this is Christmas
    For weak and for strong
    For rich and the poor ones
    The world is so wrong
    And so happy Christmas
    For black and for white
    For yellow and red ones
    Let’s stop all the fight
    A very merry Christmas
    And a happy New Year
    Let’s hope it’s a good one
    Without any fear
    And so this is Christmas
    And what have we done
    Another year over
    And a new one just begun
    Ans so this is Christmas
    I hope you have fun
    The near and the dear one
    The old and the young
    A very merry Christmas
    And a happy New Year
    Let’s hope it’s a good one
    Without any fear
    War is over over
    If you want it
    War is over
    Now…(source: http://www.lyrics007.com/John%20Lennon%20Lyrics/Happy%20Christmas%20(War%20Is%20Over)%20Lyrics.html)

    (image of John Lennon from http://videokeman.com/john-lennon/imagine-john-lennon/)