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: 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: Practicing Pirate Poems

By Leslie Lindsay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aye, aye! 

Say That Again: Imagine Being a Parent of a Child with Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

By Leslie Lindsay

[This was  previous post over the summer.  Here it is again if you missed it–or are just now joining us]. 

apraxia.jpg(image source: http://speechtherapyweb.com/ 10.15.12)

At two years old, Kate was a beautiful, energetic, and happy toddler. With the exception of one word—hi—Kate was as quiet as a mouse. We wondered if something was wrong. Even as a baby, Kate rarely babbled and cried; she was beautiful and unique with red hair and bright blue eyes.  She was, in a word, “perfect.” So why were we worried? After all, she could understand everything we said, even the big words.  And what was so wrong with having a quiet, happy toddler? 

But there were times my heart would sink. Gaggles of women who had all been in the same childbirth class a year or so earlier met up for our summer book discussion.  They were chattering about how their children were saying new words every day.  One mother proudly shared, “Oh, Maddie said elephant yesterday at daycare.  I hate that I missed it.”  I pulled my lips into a tight line and let out a sigh.  If only my baby could say, ‘mama’ I thought. 

Fast-forward a year or so.  We learn Kate has Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  Characterized by a child’s inability to express themselves verbally, CAS is a complex neurologically-based motor speech disorder.  It is serious and requires intense and frequent speech therapy by a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP).  Part of me was relieved: now we know what to call this “reason” for Kate’s lack of verbal communication. But another part of me was overwhelmed, nervous, and anxious:  now what and why? 

(image source: http://allenkleinedeters.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/do-you-ask-good-questions/)

It was time for me to put on my proactive parenting cape (forget Supermom), this diagnosis called for a little more.  I started gathering any and all information I could on the subject of CAS.  I joined listservs and read old text books on the subject.  I picked my SLP’s brain.  I worked with my daughter at home, in the car, and everywhere in between. I enrolled her in the special education preschool. And she improved. Yet in the meantime, we dealt with so many quizzical looks, unwanted advice, and clueless peers. (image source: http://www.thedoodlegirl.com/illustration-friday/illustration-friday-homage)

Imagine going to the grocery store with your toddler.  The clerk makes small talk with you and your child.  Your child can’t answer when asked, “What’s your name, cutie?”  Instead, she grunts and smiles.  The clerk turns to you, perplexed as if to say, “doesn’t your kid know her name?” 

Try taking your 4-year old to see Santa at the mall.  He can’t tell the big man in red what he wants for Christmas, even though you know he’d love a new bike with training wheels.  Instead, he makes a spinning gesture with his hands and goes vroom, vroom.  Santa chuckles, “Oh, a toy car!”  But you know that’s not it.  So does your son. 

What will you tell the kind, grandmotherly babysitter who tells you, “Oh, don’t worry.  Some kids are just late-to-talk.  She’ll catch up.  Maybe you aren’t reading and singing to her enough?”  Do you go to mommy-and-me classes so she can interact with other kids?” 

How will you know what your child wants when he just stands and points to the top of the shelf at the many items it could be?  You ask, “Do you want the blocks?”  No.  “Do you want the farm book?  Oh, I know…you want your car!”  But, instead he breaks down in tears and walks away. 

toy shelf closet doors
toy shelf closet doors

(image source: muralsbyjane.com)

How does your heart break when you overhear her peers say, “Julia can’t talk.  Let’s not ask her to play with us.” 

What’s a parent to do? 

  • Love and accept your child for who he is.  Of course you didn’t ask for your child to have CAS.  Neither did your child.  Focus on finding the resources your child needs the most—a qualified SLP. 
  • Talk to your child.  Speak with her as though you expect an answer.  Just because she can’t speak back in a way you understand, she understands you.  Make your communication with her matter.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to absorb speech and language. Read to him, study the illustrations; illuminate the details. Point out everything you can about the environment.  “Look at the birds.  Do you see the blue birds?  Beautiful blue birds.  Can you say bird?”
  • Be patient with your child.  Having a child with CAS takes time to remediate.  It’s not over in a matter of a couple of speech therapy sessions.  It can take years to get your child speaking at developmentally-appropriate levels. Talk with your SLP about ways to monitor progress.  It’s all about baby steps. 
  • Be patient with yourself.  Take a deep breath or a give yourself a time-out when you find yourself losing patience.  Allow yourself to do other things besides parent a child with CAS.  It’s important for your mental health.
  • Allow your child to be a “regular” kid.  This may mean “coaching” social play.  You may have to introduce your child to a group of peers, “This is Max.  He’s a fun kid, but he’s still working on his words.  Can he play with you?”
  • Bite your tongue or educate—diplomatically, of course.  When someone asks you about why your child isn’t talking like every other child, you can grin and bear it, or you can simply tell them, “Brooke has Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  She sees an SLP each week.  We’re working on it.”  Most folks don’t need or want more details than that.

Soon, you’ll be hearing things like, “Mom, can I have twelve bucks?” like I did the other day when my daughter with apraxia came home from school one day and wanted to go to Disney on Ice.  You’ll be hearing words and phrases like, “Whatever,” and “I didn’t do it.”  But the most touching of all, is when you hear these precious words: “I love you, mom.”  Imagine being a parent of a child with CAS. 

BioLeslie Lindsay is a former staff R.N. in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic.  She is the author of “Speaking of Apraxia:  A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech,” available from Woodbine House, Inc. in March 2012.  This is the first-ever book written by parents for parents specifically on CAS.  Leslie blogs daily on apraxia, parenting, child development and more at www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com.  She lives in Chicagoland with her two daughters Kate and Kelly, her husband Jim, and a basset hound named Sally where she writes full-time.  Feel free to contact her at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com

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

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: Tips for Teachers

By Leslie Lindsay

Teachers and the Push for Online Education

Your children may already be back in school–or you may have week or two before the big day.  In any case, you’re likely thinking about it–specifics, plus the extras like how you’re going to talk to your child’s teacher about CAS (if you haven’t already).  But what if you are a teacher who has a child with apraxia in your classroom this year? 

Here are a few tips and ideas from parents who may help you understand what all of the hoop-la is about. 

(retrieved from CASANA, 8.30.12, a YouTube video]   See this short video on Apraxia.  It’s a worth your 3 minutes!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nN9dG5F7M0

Tips for Teachers

If you are a teacher reading this, then hooray! I applaud your efforts to learn more about the kiddos in your classroom.

  • Read the child’s IEP.
  • If parents challenge your knowledge, make special requests, or argue for a special IEP meeting, remind them that you are on their side and please don’t take it personally.As parents we just want the very best for our children and we might get a little passionate about it.
  • Communicate privately with parents and never in front of other classmates,unless it is to give really good praise that will make your student feel really proud.These kids often know they can’t communicate as effectively as their peers and they may feel a bit defensive about it. Help build their self-esteem in every opportunity you can find.
  • Give parents advice and insight you learned from teaching their child. For example, “Kate did a great job teaching another student about how we sit at Circle Time. She loves to be in the helper role.” Parents love to hear praise and stories about their child doing well.
  • You may need to do a bit more “pre-teaching” when working with a child with CAS.Let her hear and practice vocabulary words ahead of time (send them home in backpack with a letter to parents indicating the upcoming unit).
  • You might need to work a bit harder to engage a student with apraxia in group activities.Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t respond right away (or at all); just keep trying.
  • Each day is a new beginning.What this student struggled with yesterday could be a non-issue today. Please don’t hold grudges.
  • Be sure you give your students with CAS lots of praise.It helps their confidence level and self-esteem. While you’re at it, praise her parents, too. They’re working really hard all day, every day, to help their child.
  • Relate something special about your student to the parents at least weekly.I can’t tell you how happy it made me to receive an out-of-the-blue email from our teacher saying something like, “Kate was really cute today in class when she started dancing and singing, ‘Mama Mia!’” Small accomplishments mean a lot to us parents.
  • Respond to parents in one way or another (phone, email, “I’ll get back to you later”), even if you don’t have an answer.Parents do not like feeling like they have been forgotten.
  • Realize that we all get burned out.Parents need encouragement and motivation, just like teachers. If we can encourage one another, then all the better!

[Excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House, 2012.  Available thru Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com]

Apraxia Monday: Preparing Yourself for School

By Leslie Lindsay

Welcome Back to School

Sending your child back to school–or just sending her there for the first time–is nerve-wrecking.  Will she be okay?  Will she be able to verbalize her thoughts?  Answer the teacher?  Get her basic needs met?  Deep breath.  I know you have concerns.  I have been there myself. 

The best thing you can do as a parent is present a happy, carefree approach to school. Kids pick up on stress and anxiety like ants on a crumb at a picnic…if they feel your anxiety, they will carry it away, too.  Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t worry, or you shouldn’t have questions…you do and that’s a good thing.  Writing down a list of your concerns can help, as does talking them over with your spouse/partner, your child’s teacher, a trusted friend, even your child’s SLP may have some insight.  

Worry about the things you can control.  I have been known to worry about things waaay out of my control, like how is she going to get from the bus to her classroom?  But the thing is, I am not there when that happens.  I don’t have to be.  There is a trained and (hopefully) compassionate bus driver behind the wheel and school staff  educated to ease the transition.  It’s what they do for a living.  Plus, you’ve taught your child all of the proper things about safety, strangers, and the like.  She will do just fine.  And really, what good is worrying about it if you can’t change it? 

It may help to make a list of all of the things your child has learned to do independently.  Kids are pretty darn amazing and resilient creatures–going to school is just another event.  And it’s completely “normal” to feel a little sad that your little one is growing up.  Hey–I’m feeling it, too as my youngest heads off to kindergarten Wednesday.  It’s never easy saying good-bye to an end of an era.

On the other hand, you may be thrilled.  And that’s okay, too.  While you may really be looking forward to the day your child is in school, you may not be ready to deal with the quiet lull that resides in your life after the last lunch bag is backed.  Make sure you have something fun to do planned for that first day back.  Maybe it’s a matinee with a mom friend, or a round of golf?  Perhaps you have plans to meet up with someone for coffee, or a trip to your favorite store.  Just do something–something for you! 

To learn more about apraxia, please look to the first-ever comprehensive book for parents on the subject, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012)

Be sure to check out these recent REVIEWS of the book on various blogs and websites: 


Apraxia Monday: Preparing Your Child for the First Day of School

By Leslie Lindsay

Hard to believe that back-to-school is amongst us–how is it even possible that it’s already August 6th?!  Here are some more tips and ideas to help you and your child ease your way into the school scene. 

Preparing Your Child for the First Day

Where your child is concerned, start early, but not too early, in prepping him for school. Be sure to drive by the school ahead of time. Point it out and get excited about the place where your child will be learning and playing. Then, a week or so later, pack a picnic and head over for lunch and some time on the playground. Your child will remember that you were there with her, so when she is playing with classmates, it won’t seem so unfamiliar. Teach her how to ask others to join her in play (see bullet points below).

The building may be big and potentially confusing.Either way, go to orientation and show your child around. Remind her that she will never be walking around the school without a teacher or parent. Take photos of your child with her teacher and the classroom and some common areas of the school (ask first). Print them out and present them to her in a little photo book. Study the photos and talk about them together. Have her carry the photo book in her backpack to look at on the bus.    


Speaking of which, if your child will be riding the bus, calm those fears too, but be careful not to create new ones. Kids often worry that they will get on the wrong bus or that they won’t make it home. Assure her that teachers will make sure she gets on the right bus and you will meet her at the bus stop. Kids who ride the bus are often better prepared to start the school day than if Mom and Dad do the drop off. Why? It gives kids a chance to be introspective and prepare in their own way. It also lessens the separation anxiety from you.

A final tip is to get to the local library and check out some books on going to school. Read those books periodically in the days leading up to the first day.

          Other ways to prepare: 

  • Describe the school-day routines (get a copy of the schedule from the teacher). Discuss what happens first, where her cubby is located, the bathroom, snack, and lunch routines, and going-home procedures. Answer any questions your child may have. This helps prevent any surprises.
  • Make sure you attend the “sneak peek day” with your child before classes start. Get to know people who may be able to help your child and point them out to your child. “If you ever need help being understood, look for this nice lady at the front desk. She will help you.”
  • Practice saying these feel-good confidence boosters:
    • “I know you can do this!”
    • “I trust you will do well at school.”
    • “You are very important to me.”
    • “I will always love and care for you.” 
    • “If you want to talk, I will listen.”
    • My youngest daughter liked this one: “Parents always come back [for pick-up].”

Make your own Social Story about a child going to school for the first time. It’s simple. Draw pictures (or have your child draw them) and then write a brief sentence on each page about what’s happening in the picture. Page one might go like this: “This is Kate. Today is her first day of school.” Page two: “She is going to kindergarten. Hooray!” Go through general steps and feelings. The book should be no more than 10 pages.

Next week, we’ll cover more specific concerns related to a child with CAS.

[the above was an excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House 2012.  It is available thru www.woodbinehouse.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.)

Apraxia Monday: “Apraxia…You Just Gotta Practice!”

By Leslie Lindsay

iStock 000011309047XSmall 300x199 Speech Practice That Doesnt Take 4EVER!

I wanted to share with you a personal moment–and one that I think will touch you, whether you have a child with CAS, or not.  [Portions of this post originally appeared as a guest blog on Say What Y’all, hosted by Haley Villines.  Thanks, Haley for allowing me to be a guest on your blog].

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 might.  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. 

For more information on the Say What, Y’all blog, visit www.saywhatyall.wordpress.com

Coming up:  The Teacher is Talking (Tuesdays), will highligh the recently-released book, Imagine: How Creativity Worksby Jonah Lehrer (HMH, 2012).  From Bob Dylan’s lyrics to the Swiffer Mop, you will be amazed at some of the things that come from this arcane force we call creativity.  Stay Tuned.Product Details

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (Mar 19, 2012) (image retrieved from Amazon.com 7/16/12)