Apraxia Monday: Giving My Child the Gift of Voice

By Leslie Lindsay

No doubt a busy time of year.  You are making lists and checking them twice…baking…shopping…wrapping…decorating…

Holiday Themed Kids Party

(image source: http://www.thefamilygroove.com/dec11_ItsMyParty.htm)

And schlepping your child(ren) to and from speech therapy.  You might be thinking that the holidays is a good time to put a stop on things, you know…take a break from therapy.

But that cannot be an option.  Go ahead, read that again:  You cannot stop taking your child to speech therapy just because it’s the holidays.  As with anything that improves your life, you can’t stop cold turkey.  You wouldn’t stop taking your blood presssure medication just because you’re busy, right? And  you wouldn’t take the cast off until the bone was done healing just because it won’t fit into the reindeer costume for the holiday play.  Nope. 

Speech therapy is so very important to your child with apraxia that it would hinder his development if you say, went to visit Santa at the mall instead of going for your Wednesday afternoon speech therapy.  Here’s why:

  • Your child thrives on routine and consistency.  He may actually look forward to seeing his SLP each week.  And if you’ll recall, ASHA indicates the “best” treatment for kids with CAS is “consistent, intense and frequent.” 
  • Your child may be on the brink of a new speech-language development.  Perhaps he just about has that ST-blend down or she is really close to saying her name; a day off a therapy could be a set-back.
  • Taking a break from theray may decrease your child’s motivation.  “Why bother [talking, practicing my words] if mom/dad doesn’t bother taking me to speech?”
  • Taking a break from therapy may decrease your motivation.  “What’s the use, anyway?  We’re just having fun with the holidays…he’ll talk when he’s ready/when we get back in January.” 

What to do:

  • Make going to speech therapy fun.  Load up your car with a special speechtime box, container, or basket.  Keep some fun trinkets in it as a reward for a job well-done. (Candycanes, erasers, pencils, coupons for special time with mom/dad, a bonus trip to the indoor playland)
  • Practice holiday words.  Whatever your holiday may be, I am sure there are some words or phrases your child can work on.
  • Invite Grandma and Grandpa that they can come along to the speech clinic.  Introduce your extended family to your devoted SLPs, and OTs.  It helps build a sense of community and understanding.  Plus, grandparents can see first-hand how much your child is improving, and put a name with a face.  grandma and grandpa cartoons jokes
  • Plan your schedule accordingly.  You may have to decline invitations to holiday parties or swap family obligations.  Your child’s speech therapy is that important.
  • Give your child a choice.  Say, “We have to go to speech therapy today, but on [whatever day] you can choose to visit Santa or go to the Festival of Lights.  Choice is empowering for children.
  • If you must travel for the holidays and take a few days off from the speech clinic, it won’t be the end of the world.  Just remember to continue working with your child on his functional language and introduce new words, too. 

See also this post from last year https://leslie4kids.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/apraxia-monday-holiday-break/

and this one From “Jake’s Journey” http://jakes-journey-apraxia.com/2012/01/04/sprint-out-of-holiday-mode-and-pat-yourself-on-the-back/

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: “What Can I Do to Help My Child with CAS?”

By Leslie Lindsay

NYC Pediatric Speech Therapist, Erica Gale, provides pediatric speech-language pathology services.

(image retrieved from www.speechworks4kids.com)

I often hear parents and caregivers ask, “What can I do to help my child with CAS?”  First, you are doing a really great thing just simply by asking–you know that not all of the speech work your child needs is going to come from the SLP.  Parents and caregivers (grandparents, babysitters, others)  really do have a large role (no pressure!) to fill when it comes to getting your child with CAS (or really any speech delay/disorder) learn to communicate verbally better. 

Here are some key reminders for a successful approach to working with your child:

  • Have your child repeat, repeat, repeat.  “Can you say that again?!  One more time!”  Make it a game, make it fun!  Kids with CAS really need to practice the motor planning.  It actually helps to build those neural pathways for speech by repeating words or phrases.
  • Provide lots of opprtunities throughout the day to have your child vocalize or talk–about anything.  You can ask questions about your environment, what to eat, what to play, where to go, the children’s book you are currently reading by pointing out illustrations, etc.  Make it fun–let your child see that speaking is indeed part of everyday life.  (Note:  sometimes it’s easier to give your child choices like, “Would you like milk or juice for lunch?” instead of “What do you want to drink?”  Likewise, you can ask your child, “Should we go to the park, or stay home and play with Play-Doh?”  Give your child an opportunity to respond–even if it’s just an approximation).
  • Be goofy and funny.  Why not?!  If you are more relaxed, so too, will your kiddo…and the better she will be at communicating verbally.
  • Make talking and speech practice more about your daily routine/life than “sit-and-speak” time.  When you incorporate speech practice into small crevices of your day, you and your child don’t get so overly taxed on it.  (this is the idea of distributed practice versus mass practice). 
  • Team up with your SLP.  Have her/him give you some ideas for “homework.”  Make sure you report back on how things went.  What did your child grasp easily?  What did she struggle with?  Remember, your SLP is an important–and integral–part of your child’s life.  Work with them…that’s what they are there for. 
  • The more talking feels like work, the less willing your kiddo will be to do it.  ‘Nuf said!
  • Imitation is HUGE!  “Can you say what I say?”  You can also practice speech skills by saying things in unison/together (songs, chants, memorization, even the ABC song works this way), “Let’s say this one together, okay?!” 
  • You are mom and dad first.  You really don’t need to become your child’s second SLP.   And you certainly don’t need to be a drill sergeant. 
  • Your role is to complement your SLPs efforts at home.  Draw it out, build on what your child already knows and does in speech, but don’t overdo it. 

Good luck!!  Let me know what works for you…

Apraxia Monday: Assessment and Diagnosis, an excerpt from Chapter 4

By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s chapter 4 from Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Here, you’ll get a glimpse of what it’s like to go to the very first (initial assessment) appointment with your child, what the SLP is doing and why…read on to learn more.

At the Appointment :

You’re there. You might be excited, nervous, indifferent, or in complete denial. Depending on the type of SLP you have—and how she or he prefers to work—you’ll likely see a combination approach to formal and informal testing at your first appointment. If your SLP is completely informal, you may be skeptical of his or her approach. “How can playing with Play-Doh and blowing bubbles really help?” you may wonder.

Your SLP should have enough toys to hold your child’s attention for a good hour or so. You’ll want to feel like you just walked into a toy superstore. But on another note, it should be organized and well-maintained, and not too overwhelming. A good SLP will know this and perhaps only bring out a few items at a time.

Besides developing trust and rapport and assessing your child’s behavior, your therapist is busy evaluating. Remember how your child’s job is to play? Well, your SLP’s “play” is her work. Here are some components of a typical speech-language evaluation:

  • Behavioral Observations: How your child engages in play, whether or not the play style is developmentally appropriate/similar to other kids this age, alertness/attentiveness/excitability. Be sure to point out to your therapist if the behavior is an accurate representation of your child’s abilities.
  • Pragmatics: Your therapist is evaluating how your child uses language to communicate with others in his environment. Examples of pragmatics include: responding to other’s vocalizations, point to/show/give objects, making eye contact, responding to greetings, and controlling behavior.
  • Gesture: How does your child uses gesture to express thought and intent without spoken language? Examples of gestures include taking on/off articles of clothing when asked, “dancing” to music, pushing a stroller/shopping cart.
  • Play: Time for fun! Really this piece of the evaluation determines your child’s development of representational thought. This is really a fancy way of saying, “your child’s ability to think in analogies; to understand symbols and infer meaning.” Can he show how to play with a toy in different ways? Hand a toy to an adult for assistance? Group objects together? Use two toys together? Put toys away when asked? This is also an opportunity to see your child’s temperament and personality; important for planning future speech sessions.
  • Language Comprehension (Receptive Language):  Determines how well your child attends to, processes, understands, retains, and integrates spoken language with and without linguistic cues. This      may be tested by asking your child to pick just one object from a group, follow two-step commands, identify body parts/clothing items on himself, and perhaps follow novel commands.
  • Language Expression (Expressive Language):  Examines how easily your child can put words together to express himself verbally to others. If your child is able to sign certain concepts such as      “more” or “thank you”—it’s still considered “expressive language,” though not verbal. Your therapist is looking to see if your child can shake his head yes/no, name an object, say several meaningful words, consistently identify 5-7 familiar objects when asked, or use single words correctly and frequently. (See Chapter 2 for more information about receptive and expressive language.)
  • Speech and Articulation: What speech sounds are in your child’s repertoire, and how accurately and meaningfully does he      produce them? Does “down” sound like “done?” If so, he is unable to      differentiate her speech. Does your child have one word that represents several different concepts? (Kate’s word was “nanni.” It meant “Grandma,” “pacifier,” and “blanket.”) Does your child appear to be looking for the right word,  but come up empty-handed (groping)? Does he grunt, squeal, and scream to      get his needs met?
  • Motor-Speech Examination (MSE): An essential tool for speech pathologists faced with diagnosing CAS is the MSE. The child is asked to imitate utterances of increasing length and complexity. Your SLP is looking to see if your child can make the same sounds in different contexts. When the SLP makes modifications to the MSE by slowing down the rate or by giving the child cues (by touch or gesture), she can begin to determine severity, and even get clues for determining the prognosis.
  • Oral Motor Skills: Do your child’s tongue, lips, jaw, and facial muscles work together to formulate words? Are facial and oral features symmetrical? Can he smile, frown, and press his lips together? Your SLP might use a flavored tongue depressor and gloves (mention if your child has a latex allergy) to examine his mouth. This can be tricky—some kids hate the idea of having someone’s gloved hand in their mouth and some kids are painfully reminded of the dentist or doctor. Your SLP should ask you and your child if this is acceptable. Some therapists will allow your child to play with the instruments used for this examination.
  • Feeding: Your child may be asked to eat something like a cracker or cookie and take a drink of water (or  juice). This will assess whether your child has any difficulty drinking, swallowing, chewing, or aspirating (drawing in air and liquid at the same time—choking). Your SLP will also ask if you have observed any eating difficulties at home. Pay close attention to the texture of foods that your child eats well and those he doesn’t (does he hate applesauce, but eat yogurt in earnest?). Mention them to the SLP, as well as any food allergies or insensitivities your child may have.

Leslie Lindsay is a child/adolescent psych R.N. turned author.  Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech is the first-ever book written for parents exclusively on this complex, neurogically based motor speech disorder.  Published by Woodbine House, Inc (March 2012), a publisher providing high-quality special needs parenting resources since 1985, www.woodbinehouse.com.  Speaking of Apraxia is also being offered through www.Amazon.com

Apraxia Monday: Chapter 3 Excerpt

By Leslie Lindsay

If you have been following along recently, you know that Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech will be released later this month.  It’s been a long–but overall good–journey in which I have been reading, writing, and revising to get this book into the hands of parents of children with CAS.  As a “count-down-to-release-day,” I am offering some excerpts of the book.  This one is on chapter 3:  Finding Help When You Suspect CAS. 

Here goes:

“As first-time parents, we didn’t want to appear “delinquent,” so when Kate was 15 months old, exactly, we headed to the doctor (the same one who delivered her) for her scheduled well-child check-up. I say “we,” because both doting parents were off work for the occasion. We came armed with our wiggly daughter; along with thoughts, questions, and toddler antics to relate to our doctor.

Kate was meeting all of her developmental milestones right on target. Except one: talking. She had only one word, “Hi.” I was excited that she had such a friendly and outgoing first word and proud that it was the one I had predicted she’d say first.

It seemed I had a natural extrovert (how did that happen with two self-proclaimed introvert parents?!). She was smiling and saying “hi” to strangers in the grocery store, on the playground, at the library.  After Dr. Baumgartner whirled into the exam room, plopped down and smiled at us, she asked a series of questions . . . was Kate doing this, doing that? Yes, yes, and yes, we nodded and smiled proudly. “Is she saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ and a few other words?” Nope. We held our breath, awaiting her response.

Sure, I was slightly concerned. After all, I had friends from childbirth class whose toddlers were jabbering up a storm. As a first-timer, however, I didn’t want to jump the gun. Kate was only 15 months old after all. She still wore diapers, took a pacifier when distressed, and was rocked to sleep. In many ways she was still a baby, and babies don’t talk, do they? Plus, I knew kids—through my years as baby-sitter and as a child psych nurse.

We told our doctor that all Kate was saying was “hi,” and that she started saying that around 13 months. Wasn’t that good enough? Our caring doctor probed a little further and eventually referred us to a local speech-language pathologist (SLP). “You can do it now, if you want to be aggressive, or wait until she is 18 months, if you want to take a conservative approach.”

I took the conservative approach. I finally made the call at 18 months. Kate still wasn’t saying “momma” and I wanted to hear my little girl call my name, instead of grunting when she needed me.

Enter the speech-language pathologist (SLP).  He or she is the key player in your child’s progress with speech and a sounding board for you.  He or she is also a professional with a master’s degree (some may have a PhD) with a background in communication disorders. SLPSs complete a practicum—usually a year in length—following their graduate program. SLPs are required to be licensed in the state in which they practice and must complete continuing education criteria to maintain their licensure. They are also accredited by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). They perform evaluations, deliver a diagnosis, carry out therapy, and recommend “homework” for you. They are also there to field questions and concerns and give you resources for additional information.

By the way, SLPs are the only professionals qualified to treat CAS. And while this is a subjective piece of information, you may also hear that an SLP’s diagnosis of CAS is more respected than that of another professional.”

Thanks for reading!  Like what you saw?  Want some more?  Head over to www.woodbinehouse.com for a $5 introductory savings off the book.  Speaking of Apraxia is also being offered by Amazon.  Pre-order now, book will be delivered to you hot-off-the-press in late March.

Apraxia Monday: Halloween Prep

By Leslie Lindsay

It may very well be the 2nd most-preferred holiday by kids, coming in right below Christmas.  But for some, Halloween stirs up anxious feelings.  It may be due to sensory integration issues, social anxiety, childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), all three–or maybe something else.

I know when my daughter, Kate was first diagnosed with apraxia, I was concerned.  I was worried she wouldn’t be able to ring the doorbells of friends and neighbors and say, “Trick-or-treat,” like all of the other kids.  Never mind the fact that she wouldn’t even be able to tell a joke!  I tried to keep my anxieties to myself, after all I know if I let my children see what I am anxious about, they will pick-up on it and in turn become anxious, too.  So, I put on a happy face and practiced with her.

We worked on words and phrases that may come up in preparation for the annual rot-out-your-teeth holiday.  Words and phrases like:

  • Candy
  • Trick
  • Treat
  • Pumpkin
  • Carve
  • Candle
  • Orange
  • Thank you
  • Costume
  • And we practiced what she was that year, too:  “doggy doctor” (a.k.a. veternarian)

Not that Kate was able to say all of those words–she wasn’t, but at least she had heard them and was able to make some approximations.  We made a point of looking at things that went along with these words and practicing them whenever we could.  Our SLP was good to make lots of print-outs for Kate’s “homework” with Boardmaker pictures on them.  But, if you want to make your own flashcards, you can do so pretty easily…

  • Together, with your child cull through some magazines/catalogs/actual photos from years past and look for items your child may come in contact with over the Halloween festivities.  Attach them to notecards (index cards)
  • Pull ’em out and practice them.  I found that it worked well to do this in the car, speech waiting rooms, pediatrican offices, at dinner…
  • We also made a point of showing Kate the actual, real-life item if we could.  Have your child touch and feel a pumpkin…what does it feel like?  (Here’s your chance to sneak in some descriptive words)…smooth, cool, fleshy, goopy, soft, slimy…
  • Most of all, practice looking candy-givers in the eye and saying “thank-you,” even an approximation will do. 
  • If your child has sensory issues; beware.  And I don’t mean this in an ominous way.  Just be prepared that the lights, sounds, crowded neighborhood streets, and other costumes may be particularly scary to your child.  You may consider telling your child in a matter-of-fact way what to expect come next Monday, October 31.  “Other kids will be in costumes, too.  There is no reason to be scared.  It’s all just for fun.”  Reassure your child that you will protect them.
  • If your child does get over-stimulated, just take her home.  It may be that 20 minutes of trick-or-treating is plenty.  Don’t push it if your child seems overwhelmed.

It all worked out just fine for Kate that first Halloween with apraxia.  She wasn’t able to say “Trick-or-treat,” but I didn’t care.  In fact, not many other kids did, either.  As my little “vet” toddled up to the doors of our neighbors  I thought, “She can do just about anything.  I won’t let this apraxia business set her apart.” 

Apraxia Monday: Word Study

By Leslie Lindsay

Each day, I am reminded that my daughter has apraxia.  It’s not so apparent anymore.  Her speech has really developed since she was diagnosed way back when (she’s 6 now), her vocabulary is huge–even if she doesn’t articulate so well.  But, there was a time when I knew absolutely nothing about speech pathology.  Nothing.

Fast-forward 4 1/2 years and I know waaay more about speech pathology than I ever, in my wildest dreams imagined. 

In elementary school, there were “speech teachers,” whom some of my classmates would see on occassion.  Later, I learned these folks were actually speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and I really had no idea they worked anywhere but within schools.

Entering High School, there were “speech teachers,” but of a different sort.  These speech  teachers taught speech & debate, improvisational theater, radio & television broadcast…all of which I was involved with when I was a student.

And then, I had a baby (some years later).  And this baby grew to become a non-verbal toddler.  And she was diagnosed with speech apraxia (CAS).  And my eyes were wide-open.

Generally speaking, parents will do just about anything for their kiddos.  So, schlepping my daughter to and from the local speech clinic didn’t seem all that bothersome, with the exception that I hardly knew what they would do for my little pumpkin.  I had no background experience to draw from, I knew virtually nothing about the assessment process or even how to read that darn report!

Drawing on my medical background, I was able to punt my way through.  Assessment and diagnosis…treatment (plan)…intervention…prognosis…all of which are common medical terminology.  I had a pretty good understanding of some latin word roots, and knew that apraxia basically meant, “without motor speech,” yet I didn’t really know what more to make of the diagnosis.

Let’s start with that report you’re likely to receive from an SLP.  It’s filled with all kinds of words.  Big words, little words…and you may not know what they all mean.  Don’t lose heart!  If you don’t know something, please ask–it’s better than wondering and waiting if you aren’t sure.

For example, here’s a list of terminology I wasn’t so familiar with:

  • Pragmatics:  The practical aspects of speech–how  your child uses language to communicate with others in her environment. Examples
    include: responding to other’s vocalizations, point to/show/give objects, making eye contact, responding to greetings, and
    controlling behavior
  • Receptive Language:  The words and phrases one receives.  Listening is part of receptive language.
  • Expressive Language:  The words and phrases one says.  Speaking is part of expressive language.
  • Articulation:  How clearly something is said.  Can you distinctly hear the sounds of each letter as your child says them?
  • Prosody:  The flow or rhythm of speech; does your child sound “smooth,” or “choppy?”
  • Groping:  Searching for the right word.  Sometimes, with apraxia in particular, you can almost “see” your child mentally searching (something struggling) to find the right word.

Okay–I know there are more, so many more but this will be enough to whet your appetite for next week.  Until then, I leave you with a few apraxia-world updates:

  • Sign up for an Apraxia Walk near you!  Visit the CASANA website, www.apraxia-KIDS.org and see what might work for you.  Our family is registered for the Chicagoland Walk on Saturday, October 15th
  • Windy City Apraxia is planning it’s next drop-in meeting for this Friday, September 16th at 7pm.  Email Holly at chicagoapraxia@comcast.com for more information.  This is a FREE event.
  • Small Talk: All About Apraxia is a FREE 5-week session of all you ever wanted to know about apraxia held in Naperville, IL beginning Thursday, September 22 thru Thursday, October 20th.  Email Leslie leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com to reserve your spot.

My book, Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding and Coping with Childhood Apraxia of Speech is due out in early 2012 by Woodbine House.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Apraxia Monday: Prepping for a Successful School Year

By Leslie Lindsay

It may be that the days of sunshine and freedom are coming to end.  Our little people head to school again–soon.  If your child also has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), that can mean more worries and concerns for you.

Here’s a few tips to get you started preparing kids for back-to-school (adjust according to age, developmental level):

  • If your kiddo will be headed off to school for the first time without you (language-based, special-ed preschool), begin by chatting about the change in positive terms, “Hey, guess what?!  You’ll be going to preschool soon.”  You can show a calendar page with the date and the days leading up to school.
  • We drove by the preschool several times on our way around town.  Once, we even packed a picnic and had lunch at the playground.
  • When you learn the name of your child’s teacher, practice saying it.  You may want to even have your private-based SLP work with your child on the teacher’s name, along with other school-based words or phrases (“Wait!”  “I need help,” “My name is____.”  “Want to play?”)
  • You may consider talking or sending an email to your child’s prospective teacher (even the principal) so they may get acquainted with your child.  Always be positive in your letter, “I would like to introduce you to my child, ____.  She is a great kid who loves art, reading, and being active (or whatever works for your child).  But she has a speech disorder called childhood apraxia of speech.  (Expand a bit as to what CAS means for you and your daughter.).  Talk about how teachers can be helpful for your child.  Remember, CAS doesn’t always appear in the same way in every kid. 
  • Head to the Apraxia-KIDS website for a free, download-able, printable letter written by Sharon Gretz (founder) in which you can tweak for your situation.  http://www.apraxia-kids.org/atf/cf/%7B145ba46f-29a0-4d12-8214-8327dcbaf0a4%7D/letter_to_a_teacher.pdf
  • Older kids, well….it all depends on where they’re at in terms of speech and language.  Talk with your private SLP (if you have one) and see if they can’t connect with the school-based SLP.  If you know the name and contact information for your school SLP, you may consider filling out a records release form now, before things get too hectic.  Sometimes private and school-based SLPs compare notes to make sure every one is “on the same page,” in terms of goals.  Get them on the same team now.
  • You may also want to pull out copies of last year’s IEP and review.  How is your child doing with some of those goals?  Any backtracking over the summer?  What might you want to see your child focus on this year?  You are just as much a part of the IEP “team” as they are.

Let me know if you have any other ideas about getting your child with CAS ready for school!  I can be reached at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com or by clicking on “comments” of today’s blog.