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:
- 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?”
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[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]