Write On, Wednesday: 4 BIG Questions for Writers

By Leslie Lindsay Ireland 2014 171

Just when I was thinking of what I ought to post for my weekly writing post, I got this tag (Tweet) from a colleage, David Ozab who writes in the Pacific Northwest. It has to do with four questions that are floating around in the blogosphere about–what else–writing!  At the end of this post I’ll tag three more writers.

Question 1: What are you currently working on?

I often have my hand in many pots, but this time I have learned to focus on one project at a time. Okay, well that’s not entirely true with two young kids, an aging basset hound, and well everything else that needs doing. But you want to know what I am writing?! Oh, that’s easy.

A ghost story.

Oh, you want more information? Okay, how about a ghost story based on an urban legend originating in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll call it a “Midwestern Gothic.”  But there is so much more going on: orphans, miscarriages, the ghosts of Christmas’s past (Well, what I’m getting at is: most ghosts are the result of human suffering, metaphorical haunts scare us more than anything)…and the possibility that psychic abilities can be inherited.

It’s all fiction, but the legend is real. Folks in St. Louis  claim the place I am writing about has been called “Zombie Road” since thr 1950’s, but it has been teeming with spirits long before then–Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, and escaped mental patients.

I also continue to blog regularly on the writing life as well as bestselling and debut author interviews (Wednesday), share fiction excerpts (Friday) over at http://www.leslielindsay.com, and keep up a blog on Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), my first “baby.” (www.speakingofapraxia.com)

Question 2: How does my project differ from others in the same genre?

Ah, always the BIG question. And a good one. This is different because there are a lot of different voices (POVs). Most haunted house/ghost stories have something to do with “old” things, this is a brand-new McMansion on the banks of the Meramec. So that begs the question, can a new house be haunted? And if so, how or why? We also dive into the past. It’s a work of fiction that teeters between contemporary and historical, mostly contemporary. 863d4-img01365-20110811-1712

Question 3: Why do you write/create what you do?

Because I can’t stop. So it sounds a bit cheesy and cliches, but I love ideas and words and capturing them on paper. I find it fun to re-live past experiences, too. Even if I didn’t exactly “live” them myself. For example in my current WIP, there’s a scene from 1984 in which a bunch of teenaged boys are partying in the woods.  Have I ever been a teenage boy? Nope. But my hubby has. Have I ever been a partyier? Uh…no. But I did live in the 1980s. Piecing it all together is somehow oddly satisfying, what can I say?

Question 4: How does your writing/creating process work?

Honestly, I don’t know! I wish there were a magic formula I could tell you.

Well first, you take an idea mix with equal parts creativity and grit. Toss in some tension and genius. Get little sleep. Multitask till you’re blue in the face. Fold in a critique partner. Read a multitude of genres. Bake at 350 for inordinate amount of time. Sprinkle with copious self-editing and then allow to be read by an agent. Sign multi-book (and dollars!) contract.

In reality, it’s more like: Have ideas. Put butt in chair. Wear the letters off  keys on laptop. Read. Write. Read about writing. Get frustrated and attempt to throw laptop out of second story window until supportive folks insist “this is good stuff, you can’t do that.” And so you sigh and roll up the sleeves cause you got work to do.

Question 5: Which Three Writers Am I “Tagging?”

Oh gosh! It’s like picking my favorite kid. Nearly impossible. But here goes:

  1. Mary Kubica author of THE GOOD GIRL (Mira, July 2014) because she writes in the hybrid women’s fiction/thriller genre, is a busy mom of young kids and debut author. See my interview of Mary here.
  2. Tanya Chernov, author of A REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL (Skyhorse Publishing, September 2012) cause she is real and writes in a very authentic voice–memoir–another genre I just adore. Read Tanya’s Guest Post here.
  3. Jennifer Weiner, bestselling author of well, many! Most recently–ALL FALL DOWN (Atria, June 2014) about a very real issue–addiction to prescription pain meds. Why her? Well, why not?! Because I’d love to hear what she has to say. Because I love her quick wit and snappy come backs. Because she can weave a fun read around a very serious issue.  See my review of ALL FALL DOWN here.

Continue reading “Write On, Wednesday: 4 BIG Questions for Writers”

Apraxia Monday: Interview with Kimberly Scanlon, CCC-SLP

By Leslie Lindsay

Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

Special thanks to Kim Scanlon of Scanlon Speech Therapy in Ramsey, NJ and author of My Toddler Talks for joining us today.  She’s also mom of Kerrigan Grace (aka Kerri) who is 7 months old.  Without further adieu, here’s Kim!

L4K: Wow. I am just amazed at your energy.  You’re a mom, a speech-language therapist of a busy practice, and author of My Toddler Talks.  How do you do it all? 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP: I drink a lot of coffee and don’t sleep! Ha! To be honest, I really try to manage my time so I can do it all without becoming too stressed. Time management is key. The night before I go to sleep, I compose a very detailed to-do list. Then, I wake up the next morning, ready to tackle my day! Having my to-do list keeps me focused. It also helps that I love crossing off tasks as I complete them; gives me a sense of accomplishment.Professional Picture (300 dpi)

Additionally, I strongly believe in having routines because they keep my sanity. In My Toddler Talks, I write about the importance of routines and guide readers on how to create routines to facilitate language development in their toddlers.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, I love what I do! After having a great speech therapy session, I feel energized! Treating my clients makes me happy. Additionally, my husband, Ryan is very supportive and I’m super lucky that my mom babysits, Kerrigan while I work. All in all, I’m very fortunate to have such a blessed life.

L4K: You have a wide variety of skills and experiences from Early Intervention to school-based SLP, and even a medical center working with geriatric patients.  Do you have a favorite population to work with?  I bet you learn a little something about every population. 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP:  I’ve had such wonderful and varied work experiences in my career. A very wise mentor once told me that you should try your hand in each population and seek different settings to find your niche. Currently, I primarily treat children; a majority of them are toddlers and preschoolers. Although, I like to have a diverse caseload because it keeps your perspective fresh.

L4K: I love your tagline, “making speech therapy fun and effective.”  What do you find are the keys to a fun and effective speech session? 

Kimberly, CCC-SLP:  Thank you, Leslie! Whether I’m treating adults or children, it’s important to keep things interactive and exciting. Discovering what motivates a client is critical to their success. By nature, I’m upbeat and a little zany so it’s pretty easy for me to turn even a structured task into something fun.

As for effective, I also have a type A personality and strive to do my best. I invest a lot of time and money into staying up-to-date on best practices. Using evidence based strategies, devising a good treatment plan and systematically targeting goals and objectives produce effective and efficient results.

L4K: Your post on Sandra Boynton’s Book, Snuggle Puppy (February, 2013) warmed my heart, as it did many others.  Can you give us some more tips on how to make reading with your child more engaging?  How does reading really help with speech and language development?Product Details

Kimberly, CCC-SLP: Thank you! I had so much fun writing my Snuggle Puppy post.

I can think of so many ways to make reading with your child more engaging and have written several posts about this topic on my blog. Creating a reading routine and picking a time when your child is most relaxed and focused is essential. For toddlers, choose books that he can relate to and read ones that mirror some of his own life experiences. For instance, using the potty or going to the zoo.   (image source: Amazon.com 3.10.13) 

There are so many ways reading helps with speech (articulation, voice, and fluency) and language (expressive and receptive skills). In fact, I could probably write another book on it! Books can easily be used to target very specific objectives. For articulation purposes, books can provide an enjoyable context to practice certain sounds. If a child is learning to say his “f” sounds and has progressed to the sentence level, reading books that have multiple opportunities for “f” is so much more engaging then doing worksheets! For language development, you can use books to target verbs, adjectives, prepositions, following directions, answering and asking various wh questions. And, the list goes on.

L4K: The concept behind your book, My Toddler Talks is to empower parents, grandparents and educators to promote language skills in kiddos through play.  What aspect of the book are you most proud of?  My Toddler Talks Book Cover (300 dpi)

Great question! There are so many parts of My Toddler Talks that I love (the 25 step-by-step play routines, the easy to remember acronyms, the troubleshooting tips, etc). I’m really proud of how well I transformed some complex “speechie” terms and concepts into something much more parent friendly and easy to digest. Of course, this book is not a replacement for speech therapy, but its hands on and helpful. I set out to design a workbook for parents to read with their highlighters and pens. One to make them think, “Yeah, I can do that! I’m going to try it tomorrow!”

My Toddler Talks is available for purchase at Amazon.  But…Kim has graciously offered to give-a-way a copy to one lucky reader.  (See below for detials). 

L4K:  Finally, what advice would you give to a parent who is raising a child with CAS? 

  • Seek out an ASHA certified and licensed speech language pathologist who is experienced in treating apraxia of speech.
  • For severe cases, teach the child some signs or how to use a picture book to reduce frustration and increase functional communication until his speech motor system further develops for speech.
  • Practice specific sounds or words in short but purposeful 10 to 15 minute bursts throughout the day.
  • Purchase Speaking of Apraxia by Leslie Lindsay! 
  • Last but certainly not least, give your child a break. He needs to have down time as well. Don’t push practicing if he’s tired, stressed, or not feeling well.

***Thanks, Kim for sharing your passion for speech!***

Now for the… Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-WayWant a free copy of Kim’s book, My Toddler Talks?  Of course you do!  Drop me a line (leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com) or make a comment on the blog about how this post “spoke” to you.  A U.S. winner will be drawn at random Friday, March 15th 2013 at noon CST.  You will be contacted via email if you are the winner.  Book will be mailed to you free of charge.

Help SPEAKING OF APRAXIA win in the READER’S CHOICE AWARDS!  You can VOTERCA 2013 Logo for the book every day now thru March 19th.  Just click on the link below.  THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!  http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2013/02/19/vote-for-favorite-new-special-needs-parenting-book-2.htm

In My Brain Today: Reader’s Choice Finalist

By Leslie Lindsay

It is with great pleasure, awe, and humility that I share fantastic news.  SPEAKING OF APRAXIA:  A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012) has advanced to the finalist stage of the Reader’s Choice Awards by About.com/Terri Mauro, mother and author.  Terri Mauro

(image source: http://specialchildren.about.com/od/readerschoice/tp/Readers-Choice-Favorite-New-Special-needs-Parenting-Book.htm.  Retrieved 2.21.13) 

When I decided to write this book, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) even was.  I was the one who wanted/needed the book, I certainly didn’t think I could write one!  Published by Woodbine House, a leader in special needs parenting books, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA is currently the only book on the shelves written exclusively on apraxia for parents.  Having the book reach the finalist stage of a nationally-known award is more than a dream come true. 

But I could use  your help.  Just as the award’s name suggests, obtaining the honor of the award is based solely on readers.  So, if you–your child(ren)–or your organization–have been touched by the book, childhood apraxia of speech, any speech disorder, Down’s syndrome, or any other bioneurological disorder, then please take a moment to vote.  It’s really very simple.  Just click on the link below and a mark your ballot for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA.  Readers' Choice Awards Logo

VOTE HERE!! http://specialchildren.about.com/b/2013/02/19/vote-for-favorite-new-special-needs-parenting-book-2.htm

You may be asked to sign-in via Facebook, personal email, or About.com.  You can vote once per day till March 19th.  The book with the most votes WINS.

And since you are curious, I will be honest:  the “prize” is *just* bragging rights.  That’s it.  No money, no personal gain on my part…just a great book that readers like and gain valuable information from. 

Your support and commitment would be much, much appreciated. 

***And that is what is in my brain today, Thurday February 21st 2013***

For more information, and to see the other finalists, look here:  http://specialchildren.about.com/od/readerschoice/tp/Readers-Choice-Favorite-New-Special-needs-Parenting-Book.htm

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!

Special Announcement: Reader’s Choice Award for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA

By Leslie Lindsay

I was overwhelmed with awe and pride earlier this week when my publisher contacted me to share SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012, www.woodbinehouse.com) had been nominated for a Reader’s Choice award.  RCA 2013 Logo

The idea of the book was born when my (then )2 1/2 year old daughter was diagnosed with apraxia of speech (CAS).  Being a bookish kind of gal, I wanted a comprehensive guide that would explain the ABC’s of apraxia.  I searched, and while I found some that satisfied my curiosty, I wanted more.  A writer at heart, my friends and close family encouraged me to write my own.  Fast-forward 5 years–the book has become a reality. 

And now it’s up for winning an award.  I couldn’t be more grateful.

But the book needs you!  From the The Readers’ Choice Awards website, “[This award] give us the opportunity to celebrate the special-needs resources that inform us, support us, inspire us, give us a laugh when we need it, and otherwise contribute to our ability to parent our kids with special needs and help our children shine.  Nominations begin January 14.”  Please, if you have been touched by SPEAKING OF APRAXIA, I urge you to pop over to the website to nominate it.  It’s really easy.  The more nominations it receives, the better chance it has of making the final cut. 

All you need to do is hop on to: http://specialchildren.about.com/u/ntn/readerschoice/RCA-Parenting-Book-2013/form.htm

Please provide your own reason as to why the book should win (limit of 300 characters including spaces). Nominations accepted through February 11. After finalists are selected, voting for the winner begins.

The About.com site is owned by the New York Times Company and managed by Terri Mauro, Terri Mauromother of two children with special needs: a 22-year-old with language-based learning disabilities and a 19-year-old with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, both adopted from Russia in 1994. She estimates that she has been to 32 IEP meetings over the course of 17 years of advocating for her kids, and celebrated her final one in the winter of 2012. (image and addtional text about Ms. Mauro obtained from http://specialchildren.about.com/bio/Terri-Mauro-13624.htm on 1.17.13)

Terri is the author of 50 Ways to Support Your Child’s Special Education and The Everything Parent’s Guide to Sensory Integration Disorder. Her website Mothers With Attitude, offering “humor and help for adoptive moms, special-needs moms, any old moms at all,” was recognized as a USA Today Hot Site and a Good Housekeeping Site of the Day. She has been working as a writer for more than 25 years, and has been an editor for Hallmark Cards, First for Women magazine, and Food and Wine cookbooks. You can read more about Terri’s work experience on her Google profile.

Apraxia Monday: Stimulating your Kids’ Vestibular System

By Leslie Lindsay

Last week’s “Apraxia Monday” was all about bouncing and boinging on a giant (supervised) trampoline.  Not only is it great fun, but also a superb cardiovasular exercise and a method to activate that vestibular system. 

But just what exactly is the vestibular system?  Well, according to an article at http://connectability.ca/2011/03/24/vestibular-stimulation-tip-sheet/, “vestibular stimulation is the input that your body receives when you experience movement or gravity. It can be mild; nodding your head or climbing stairs or it can be intense; skydiving or a rollercoaster.”

In SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (okay, okay…shameless plug), I mention how the vestibular system is useful in generating speech sounds.  You can find a good sampling onhttp://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-myths/200910/dizzy-delightful-or-irrelevant-how-did-vestibular-stimulation-get-so-much-at pages 164-69.

Does all of this Sound fishy to you, too?  (see also this Psychology Today article, ). 

I was in the same boat (pun intended) a few years ago.  Our evaluating SLP in Minnesota had encourged us to get our daughter on a swing “as often as possible.”  I looked out of the small window of her office.  There was snow on the ground.  I looked back at her like she had three eye balls.  “In this weather?”  I asked. 

“Well, yes.” She replied.  “Just bundle your daughter up and take her outside…or, you could get a swing to hang in your basement.” 

I didn’t roll my eyes, but I wanted to

Of course, this pediatric SLP was on to something.  Once I learned we were dealing with CAS a year or so later (now in Illinois with a different CAS), I became convinced that–at least for my little girl with CAS–the vestibular stimulation was a big piece to her overall progress.  Kate loved movement.  And it makes sense: CAS is a neurologically-based motor speech disorder. 

Five-plus years later, as we continue to recover from CAS I continue to receive catalogs from companies such as Fun and Function (www.funandfunction.com).  I am just amazed at all of the options that exist for famlies to incorportate “therapy” at home.  So, if you have the space (and an extra $60-300) and want to hang a swing-like apparatus in your basement, or your child’s bedroom, by all means be my guest.  It just may help your kiddos create some new words. 

Good luck!

Leslie : )

COMING UP ON 1/21/13’s “Apraxia Monday” interview with beloved pediatric speech-language pathologist Cari Ebert, CCC-SLP of Small Talk: Diagnostic Testing and Curriculum for Parents of Young Children with Speech and Language Delays. She has a special interest in CAS. You won’t want to miss this. Share with friends and family…let’s get the word out!

P.S.  I also like Hearthsong’s Hugglepod seen here http://www.hearthsong.com/hugglepod-sturdy-canvas-hanging-chair-with-removable-cushion_p401387.html and this one with lights!!  (my 7yo with resolving CAS saw this in the catalog and wanted it–not sure that her wish will come true…but it’s very appealing to her)  http://www.hearthsong.com/nylon-canvas-hugglepodhangout-with-led-lights_p421561.html

Apraxia Monday: Honoring your SLP this Month–Gift-giving Ideas

By Leslie Lindsay

(image source: www.damselsinsuccess.com)

You may be super-organized and well ahead of me–and that’s great! But in case you are scratching your head as to how to honor your child’s SLP this holiday season, look no further!

Here’s how my search began about 5 years ago:  a crowded suburban mall.  Two kids under three.  Sticky, pudgy fingers caked in candy cane residue from having just seen Santa.  A weary mommy and an impatient daddy.  I thought all of our gift purchasing was done.  Until I remembered we had a very special person to buy for  this year: Miss Jen, my daughter’s then speech-language pathologist (SLP).  I bit my lower lip and looked out at the sea of mall kiosks.  Flat-irons, scarves and mittens, hand lotion, and ornaments clouded my view. 

I wheeled the double strolled to the personalized ornament stand.  My eyes glazed over as I scanned the kiosk covered with every imaginable ornament:  nurses, doctors, police officers, teachers, pets (a groomer!) video gamers…even hair dressers stared back at me.  I cleared my voice and approached the cashier, “Um, excuse me…do you happen to have a speech-language pathologist?” 

“A what?”  The woman lowerd her glasses and looked at me like I had two heads. 

“You know, a speech therapist?  SLP?”  I tried again.

She completely dismissed me.  “Uh, no.  Don’t think I do.” 

I sighed, “Well I see you have lots of caregiver-type ornaments here…I just need one for my daughter’s speech therapist.  How about one about talking?  A big speech bubble or something?”  I was desperate. 

She handed me an ornament with a pink cell phone.  Um, no. 

So I culled the shelves again.  Something had to work.  I ultimately chose one in which there were two little girls in an embrace.  They had red hair. 

On the small space in which the ornament could be personalized, I had the woman enscribe, “Miss Jen, thanks for giving us the gift of voice.”  (I had to come up with that on my own; the cashier/artist apolgizing, “I’ve never had this request before…I can usually come up with catchy sayings pretty easily.”)

And so it began:  the yearly task of finding something unique for my daughter’s unique treatment of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). 

In the meantime, I did find some SLP-related ornaments on-line. 

Here are some other ideas for you to borrow, steal, or put your own spin on as you prepare for the holidays:

  • Offer to donate a toy (new is best) to your child’s speech clinic.  You can ask around and find out what toys are particularly good for speech purposes–the front desk staff or your child’s SLP can offer some good ideas. 
  • Give your SLP or her clinic a subscription to a magazine or  journal.  Make it a waiting room gift for all children and families to use like Highlights or People, or make it a little more personal (a bit more pricey) and give The Journal of Speech, Lannguage &  Hearing Research http://jshd.asha.org/Likewise, the American Journal of Occupational Therapy may be a nice addition http://www.aota.org/pubs/AJOT_1.aspx as well. 
  • Present her a gift card to a local teacher’s store or educational supply company.  Like teachers, many of the activities and things your child does in speech therapy come out-of-pocket. 
  • Cater lunch for the staff.  This works especially well if your child sees several professionals at one location, like a PT, OT, and ST.  Lunch doesn’t have to be fancy–a footlong sub, chips, and drinks can feel like a feast for busy-no-time-for-lunch therapists. 
  • Send in morning coffee and bakery items from a local coffee shop or donut store.  Many deliver. 
  • How about something like personalized stationary?  A personalized mug or calendar?  A bag/tote to carry all of her treatment plans and hand-outs. 
  • A heartfelt card explaining all of the reasons you are thankful for his/her services? 
  • Give her a book that has helped you along your apraxia/special needs journey.  Here are a few to stoke the fire:                           
Product Details

 “Here’s How to Treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech” by Margaret (Dee) Fish, CCC-SLP.  While this is mostly a text book written for students in an SLP program, your SLP will still gather some really great tips for use in the clinical setting.  It’s a little on the spendy side, but well worth it. (http://www.amazon.com/Childhood-Apraxia-Speech-Plural-Publishing/dp/159756589X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355161689&sr=8-1&keywords=here%27s+how+to+treat+childhood+apraxia+of+speech)

Okay, shameless plug….

Product Details“Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech” by Leslie Lindsay.  While this book was written specifically with parents in mind, many SLPs like and use it, too.  (http://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Apraxia-Parents-Childhood-Speech/dp/1606130617/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355161689&sr=8-2&keywords=here%27s+how+to+treat+childhood+apraxia+of+speech)
“My Brother is Very Special” by Amy May.  All about kids who feel like they talk funny and need to see an SLP to get better, told from a big-sister’s point-of-view. 

Product Details 
Product Details “The Big Book of Exclamations” by Terri Kaminski Peterson, CCC-SLP.  This is a book intended to be read with and to your child.  It’s more of a therapy tool, than it is a sit-and-read-book.

Product Details

Product Details

The Special Needs Parent Handbook: Critical Strategies and Practical Advice to Help You Survive and Thrive by Jonathan L. Singer (Apr 13, 2012)

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