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)

Apraxia Monday: A logo for Apraxia…really?!

By Leslie Lindsay

Awhile back, when I was organizing and facilitating my Small Talk: All About Apraxia group this past fall, I had this little logo:

Small Talk (click here to see logo)

I picked it because it was cute and fun and I thought it represented apraxia well.  Why?  Well, I am sure some of the participants were wondering the same thing…here’s a little explanation:

  • First, CAS (apraxia) affects both boys and girls.  Not equally though.  Seems boys are the lucky ones, outnumbering girls by about 2:1 in terms of prevelance.
  • CAS also affects all cultures.  It is hard to say whether CAS affects kiddos in Brazil, for example but I am sure it does.  You will find websites devoted to it in the U.K., in Canada, and “down under.”  It’s definitely a world-wide phenomonen.
  • Sometimes–as a parent dealing with CAS–you feel you have the “world on your shoulders,” as this clipart depicts.
  • And what about the children it affects?  I am sure they often feel the same way…
  • Of course, the heart in the middle represents the love we have for our children with apraxia.

What do you think?  What kind of logo would you create to spread the awareness of Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Coming Up in “Apraxia World”:

  • Holiday hints, tips, and ideas for your child with apraxia, including should you take a [speech] therapy hiatus, or not?
  • Games, toys and more you may consider stuffing your child’s stocking with; items that may boost their word power.
  • My book, Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech has been doubly-and triply revised by the editors-that-wow at Woodbine House.  It will be moving into the production phase by January.  The book should be published in March 2012.  The launch party is scheduled for April 7th!!

Apraxia Monday: Kate visits Small Talk: All About Apraxia

By Leslie Lindsay

A few weeks ago, I was busy preparing for my Small Talk:  All About Apraxia group.  It was our first night and I needed a little help stuffing the folders I had prepared for each participant.  So, I did what any good–over-scheduled mom would do:  I enlisted the help of my children.  “Why not?”I thought.   After all, it’s because of my daughter that I even have a group dedicated to helping other parents of children with apraxia.  So, Kate Riley and I sat down and stuffed folders.

About half-way through, she looked up at me and said, “This looks important, is this your job?”  Well, yes.  I suppose it is.  Depends on how you define “job.”  I don’t get paid to do this–at least not in the typical  dollars and cents kind of payment–but I do get some kind of payment for my services…it comes from helping others.  It comes from a smile on their face, or a kind word of appreciation.  It comes when they tell me that they took the next step to finding a better SLP for their child, or they looked at another resource.

And then Kate wanted to go with me to the next apraxia meeting.  I arched my eyebrows and tilted my head, “Really?!  You want to come?”  She nodded and smiled.  She told me she could talk about apraxia.  What?!  I was a bit dumbstruck.  Kate–my beautiful daughter with childhood apraxia of speech is offering to come to my evening group and chat with other mommies who also have children with CAS.  Talk about apraxia!?  It all seemed pretty ironic, but well, why not?

She came and she shared her thoughts about Childhood apraxia, “My name is Kate.  I have apraxia.  But, parents it is not serious.  All you have to do is take your kid to speech.  And practice.  A lot.  Then you can say your words better.”  It was a short, sweet statement from a little girl…but in her mind, her apraxia wasn’t serious.  We continued with a question-and-answer series, “what should you tell your friends?”  (Nothing, they don’t really need to know, she said).  I probed a little more, “What happened in your classroom when you shared with your desk-mates that you have apraxia?”  (Well, they didn’t know what it was, I tried to tell them, but I couldn’t).  I know, that’s the irony.

Anyway, I was very proud of my Kate that night.  It took a big step of courage and she did great!  I can only hope that she continues to share with others her experiences.  I can only hope she will be the best that she can be!

Coming Up in “Apraxia World:”

  • The 3rd Annual Chicagoland Walk for Apraxia will be held this Saturday, October 15th at Ty Warner Park.  I will blog about the event on Monday the 17th…so stand by.
  • Later this month, we’l talk more about preparing for Halloween and also guest-blogger, Becca Jarzyinski, CCC-SLP will step in on the 31st and share her thoughts on kids with apraxia and prosody/volume issues.   
  • As always, if you see the need for a certain topic related to CAS, please let me know leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com

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!

A Little Literacy, Please: Updates

By Leslie Lindsay

I am not sure where the day went…well, okay–I do.  It started bright and early on this crisp, almost-fall-but-not-quite Tuesday.  Yesterday was Labor Day and I am feeling like it’s Monday, sooo…forgive me for being a little “off.”  (Though some of you may beg to differ that I am always a little off)!

Crazy morning getting kids off to school with at least one meltdown by Kid #2 who is usually a saint, but today decided to change places with Kid #1’s morning-o-drama.  Kid #1 dropped off at school, #2 to pre-K (across town), book revisions, appointment for mom, quick bite while I completed more revisions in the minivan as I mooched off of the FedEx Store’s Internet, pre-K pick-up followed by Target Tuesday, home to unload Target goodies, flip through mail, “kid-swap” so I could run to the OB for the lovely annual exam (ugh)…uh, too much information??!  Home to prepare dinner and cram in a little 1st grade homework before I had to dash off to Cirriculum Nite.  Of course, I had a little help with all of this: my hubby did the homework showdown with Kid #1 and I just gave a few gentle reminders.  He also entertained them at the park while I was learning all about PTA and Everyday Math.


And now, well…now I’ve just got to get this Shutterfly album made before my coupon expires. 

So, that’s my sorry excuse for not having a better blog today. But, I promise they are coming.  This week…being back-to-school for all and most kids, I will be hosting a little blog give-a-way.  So, please stay tuned.  I also have some good tips on creating a picture schedule for you (and your kids) to follow on a daily basis (that will be Friday).

Other suggestions of late have been:

  • What’s the editing process like for my book?  I’ll tell ya in tomorrow’s Write On, Wednesday!
  • How do I navigate the public library?  How can I get the most of it for my kids?  So, a library tutorial is in the works.
  • “Be a Bucket Filler” is the motto for my daughter’s school this year.  What does that mean?  And yep, there’s a book to go with that.  I’ll be sharing that next week in the new series, “The Teacher is Talking Tuesdays”
  • Finally, Apraxia is never far from my mind.  Want to join us for the fall Small Talk: All About Apraxia?!  It’s FREE and held in Suburban Chicago…Naperville, to be exact.  Contact me to place your name on the interest list!  leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com




Apraxia Monday: Updates

By Leslie Lindsay

You will have to excuse my lame post today…but I will give you a few updates in the apraxia community:

  • My family has registered for the Fall Apraxia Walk in Chicagoland at Ty Warner Park.  This walk is sponsored by CASANA with coordinators from the Windy City Apraxia Network.  The day of fun is scheduled for Saturday, October 15th 2011.  Break in your walking shoes and come support CAS!  For more information, or to register on line, see www.apraxia-kids.org/chicagowalk  Do it before September 26th and get a FREE tee-shirt.  Registration is $20/adults and $10/kids
  • “Small Talk: All About Apraxia” is gearing up for the FALL sesssion!  It’s 5 weeks of everything you ever wanted to know about apraxia.  Our first meeting will be Thursday, September 15th from 7-9pm at Panera Bread in Naperville, IL.  Please, ask your friends, family, teachers…anyone who may be interested in sharing and learning experiences with CAS.  It’s FREE!   Email me, leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com for more inforamation or to place your name on the interest list.
  • I’ll be guest blogging sometime next week (August 22-26) on a great “new-to-me” site called Child Talk (www.talkingkids.org)  hosted by Becca Jarzynski, CCC-SLP and also mom, which is quite valuable and personable in learning all kinds of things about speech development and kids.
  • My book, Speaking of Apraxia is undergoing it’s first round of revisions with my editor at Woodbine House.  If all goes well, you should see it in stores and on Amazon.com by early 2012.  Yay!