Apraxia Monday: Improving Reading Skills


children_reading-istimewa.jpg image by bankfotowol
By Leslie Lindsay 

If you have a child with CAS (childhood apraxia of speech), then you are probably aware that verbal communication is a bit of a…well, challenge.  It may also come as no surprise that reading and writing may also be a challenge for your little one with CAS.  You will likely start to see this struggle as your kiddo hits the later preschool years (Pre-K) moving into kindergarten.

Since it’s summertime, it may be a great time to practice these skills without the pressure to perform.  You and your child can progress at a rate that is comfortable to you….and come fall, your child with apraxia is ready to put those hard-learned skills into action.

But let’s start with the basics: why is it so hard for kids with CAS to read and write?  Aside from pulling out some heavy-duty texts to explain all of this, I will just provide a couple of basics:

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

2.  Kids with speech-language disorders may have a distorted sense of what the symbols (those things we call “letters”) represent (words). 

3.  Children with apraxia may have “differently wired” brains, affecting what–and how–they read, learn, and interpret information.

4.  Children with apraxia may have a decreased ability to coordinate the vocal track in producing a word.

The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) created the National Reading Panel.  They determined that kids need a variety of techniques to learn to read:

  • Phonemic (sound) awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Guided oral reading
  • Teaching of vocabulary words
  • Reading comprehension strategies 

If that all sounds like blah, blah, blah to you…bear with me.  It’s not nearly as mysterious as it sounds.

So, What’s a Parent to do?!

Make it fun.  That, of course is your #1 goal when you work with your child on these often hard-to-master skills.  “If it ain’t fun, they ain’t gonna do it!”

Read, Read, Read!  You can start with a love for reading.  Let your child see you reading.  Really, anything counts…magazines, books, newspapers.  Just the fact that you are reading sets the stage for your child to do the same.  But also read with your child.  Start out with repetitive books.  Those stories that are predictable may be boring to you, but for your child they bring to life the idea that they can predict what is going to happen next (a very empowering skill), plus, they are easier to memorize in which it may look as if your child is “reading” it on her own.

Introduce rhyme.  Read books that rhyme, or just make up silly jingles while doing your everyday things…like preparing lunch or driving in the car.  “What rhymes with jelly?  Belly!  That’s right!  I’ve got a jelly belly!!”  Can you say that?!  Let me hear you…

Next, you can have your child discriminate rhyme.  “What rhymes with Sam?  Am or eggs?”  The sillier the better.

Then have your child produce rhyme.  It works like this:  “I am thinking of a word that rhymes with Sun, but starts with /f/ [fun].  Just make sure you make the sound of the letter /f/ and not say, F.  (A great activity to do on those summer road trips).

We’ll, talk more about helping your child with reading skills next week on “Apraxia Monday.”  Stay tuned, too for later weeks on writing skills.

Check out these blogs for a review of Speaking of Apraxia (Woodbine House, March 2012) and a chance to win a FREE copy of the book, where you can learn more information about helping your child with school-based skills like reading and writing in chapter 12. 

Special thanks to PediaProgress of Downer’s Grove, IL for information on the NICHD and rhyming examples from their April 5, 2012 presentation.  www.pediaprogress.com




The Teacher is Talking:

By Leslie Lindsay

I have been off-track today.  I am blaming it on this cold I have been sporting since–oh, I don’t know.–the trees bloomed back in March!  I think it started as allergies then morphed to a cold and then cleared up and is now back.  Lucky me.

I should have been working on some articles today for various publications, but I am not.  I stopped at Trader Joe’s and then to Two Bostons Pet Boutique (nothing fancy for this hound, unless you count the Greenies to freshen her breath and the rice/pototo-free food to tame her toots).  And then home where I really thought I was going to get some good “work” done.  Alas, I started a load of laundry, folded another and futzed around too much on Facebook.  You know how it goes.

So do the authors of “The Winner’s Brain,” Drs. Brown and Feske.  In fact, they aim to say that focus is actually “Win Factor #3.”  That is having it [focus!] is what really factors into the equation to get people to become winners.

Product Details (Image rerieved from Amazon 5.15.12)

The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown, Mark Fenske and Liz Neporent (Mar 22, 2011)

The brain is faced with a “zoo” of distractions that compete for our attention on a near constant basis.  In fact, most folks are distracted at least every 3 minutes into a task.  Emails!  Phone calls!  Im’s!  Kids!  Hounds!  They’re everywhere!  But a person who is really driven (okay, I’ll say it…a “winner”) has the ability to focus on tasks and activities in the moment, especially when that moment in full of distractions and stressors.  They are able to deliberately calibrate their level of FOCUS under a wide array of circumstances and can call on the best type of focus for the task at hand.  Humm….who knew we had different types of focus?!

Here are Five Different Steps to Reinvest Your Focus (from the book):

1.  Admit to yourself that you are off-task

2.  Remind yourself of the original task and why it is important

3. If possible, eliminate the factors that derailed your attention; turn off the cell phone, close email, grab a sandwich, finish a conversation.

4.  Choose a starting poin, cue yourself with a word like “go” and get back on-task.  Notice the rich details of what you are doing.  If you are reading something that you are trying to stay focused on, put a checkmark at the bottom of every pays or every so often, jot a word down in the margin.

5.  Pay attention to the small details you may not ordinarily notice to give you a new perspective on the same ol’ task. 

Class Dismissed!!

The Teacher is Talking: The Winner’s Brain–Motivation

By Leslie Lindsay

Am I a “winner” because I spent the majority of my “free time” (i.e. kid-free) whacking bushes?  Well, perhaps I am.  At least according to “The Winner’s Brain:  8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Succeess” by Drs. Fenske and Brown (Harvard Press, 2010) who suggests that motivation is one of those 8 strategies.  Here’s how it works:

I am motivated to trim my bushes with an electric trimmer that my neighbor loaned me.  You see, I was out over the weekend painstakingly trimming them with this large pair of scissors–you know the kind?  It was taking forever, but in a weird way, it was kind of satisfying.  I knew all about the electric version, it’s just that we don’t have one (ask my hubby, it’s his “rule.”)  But then, after Mr. Chin showed me how….it started raining.  Hard.  We packed up and headed back in.  Today–finally warm and sunny–I headed out to get the job done.  I wanted to return the Bushwacker promptly as any good neighbor would do.

You see, not only was I utilizing “win factor” #2: motivation, but also #3: focus (more on that next week).  Motivation, according the authors of the book is a force that, “Flows through you like phases of an electrical current.  In Winner’s Brain, motiviation allows the individual to glide right over obstacles that often stop less determined people cold.  It helps them push through challenges even when there is little external impetus to spur it on.  Motivation primes the brain to see rewards even when they are a long way off, and, indeed, even where there are no guarantees those rewards will ever come.”

Here’s your chance to win a FREE copy of “The Winner’s Brain:”  Be the first to write a quick comment on the blog about what motivates you to be a better parent.  The first serious comment to come my way (based on time and date stamp) will be the winner…whose motivated?!? (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Thanks for being a loyal reader and good luck! 

Product Details (image retrieved from Amazon.com 5.8.12)

The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success by Jeff Brown, Mark Fenske and Liz Neporent (Mar 22, 2010


The Teacher is Talking: Self-Awareness, a Quiz (from “The Winner’s Brain”)

By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s a new milestone:  This is my 501 st blog post!  Wow.  That’s a lot of blogging since 2009.  If you are new to the blog, welcome and thanks for reading!

I blog daily, Monday thru Friday on various topics related to kids, parenting, education, childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), crafting, and more. 

Tuesdays are “The Teacher is Talking” and today marks #2 in a series of tips and ideas you can use for your noggin, from “The Winner’s Brain.”   (that is, making it just a wee bit better than it was, say yesterday).  Last week, I blogged on this topic,and a representative from Harvard University Press “found” the post and contacted me.  She generously offered to send me a couple of copies of “The Winner’s Brain” (2010) for a lucky blog reader (or two) to win!  You just never know what will come of your blogging.  Details to follow on how to get one of those copies.

For today, we will talk about “Win Factor #1: Self-Awareness.” 

What is “Self-awareness,” other than being aware of who you are?  From the book, “a well-developed self-awareness makes you more effective in your relationships, your job, and every aspect of your life….you are more aware of how you relate to the rest of the world and how the rest of the world relates to you….by becoming self-aware, you gain insight into why things happen to you the way they do–and how you can increse the chances of creating circumstances favorable to success.”

Boost Your BrainPower:  When you understand your talents and limitations, your self-awareness is increased.  When you have a sense of what motivates you, you tend to choose activities that keep you going.

So, do you know yourself the way others do (public versus real-self)?  Take this quick quiz and see.  Answer quickly and honestly.  Ask a friend or spouse to do the same–about you–and then compare answers.  If there is a large discrepancy between what you think and what they think, then your public and private self may not be congruent.  Ready?!  Go!

1.  Do/Would you trust me with a secret?

2.  Could you call me if you had an emergency

3.  What’s the strongest factor that makes me a good friend?

4.  Do you think I easily forgive people or am I a grudge holder?

5.  What does my nonverbal language say to others?

6.  Am I am optimist or pessimist?

7.  What do you get tired of me talking about?

8.  What do you notice that I do when I am feeling uncomfortable or nervous?

9.  What one word do you think describes me best?

Okay…Class dismissed! Stay tuned for details on how to get a FREE copy of “The Winner’s Brain” by Drs. Fenske and Brown (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Product Details  (image retrieved from Amazon.com 5.01.12)




A Little Literacy, Please: If You Take a Mouse to School….Give-a-way!!

By Leslie Lindsay

One of my very favorite children’s books is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by the talented Felicia Bond.  It reminds me so much of parenting, which is probably why I think it’s so great…everything that happens in this little mouse/boy’s day is a function of “scope creep,” that is, everything leads to another and before you know it, a seemingly small project has become a bigger and bigger one.  So, it’s no surprise that I love the all of the “if you give” series…well, maybe not everyone of them (too much of a good thing becomes a little lackluster).

Product DetailsSo, with it being September and all…I thought why not highlight If You Take a Mouse to School?  And, I am giving away a copy of the book (paperback) to a lucky blog reader!!  That’s right–FREE and BRAND-NEW sent directly to you just for being a blog reader. 

How do you get it:  Tell me something you like about this blog in general…the writing style, the tips, the themed days (which day do you like best?), something cool you’ve learned or done with your kids because you read the blog…You can email me at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com to let me know, or post a comment in the comment section of today’s blog.  This will enter you for the contest. 

A name will be drawn at random by the end of the week, Friday September 16th.  Don’t miss this great opportunity to WIN this FREE COPY of “IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO SCHOOL”

Here are some fun ideas to do with the book: 

  • Read the story to your child (or host a playdate with a few friends
  • Pretend to be “as quiet as mice,” while you go about the next 30 minutes or so.  See who “wins.”
  • Nibble on cheese and crackers for an afternoon snack as mice might…
  • Draw or create your own construction paper mouse
  • Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies with or without the kids
  • While the kids are busy doing something else, tell them the mouse sneaked into the kitchen and left the cookies for snack time.  (you can substitute store-bought cookies if you decide to sneak)
  • Play an old-fashion game of “Mouse Trap.”

For more information on Laura Numeroff and her books, look to:


To learn about the illustrator, Felicia Bond,


And the mouse-cookie books in general: