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In My Brain Today: Reader’s Choice Finalist

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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

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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

COMING UP ON APRAXIA MONDAY:

  • 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. 

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

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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: A Gossip Columnist Shares “Speaking of Apraxia”

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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: ABCs & CAS (Why Reading is Hard, How YOU Can Help)

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By Leslie Lindsay abc_book.gif

We know that having children with CAS presents a different set of challenges.  From not being able to commuicate clearly to learning to read, seems there is always something we need to help our little people with . 

Learning to read with CAS is topic that is often up for discussion.  Why is it so darn hard for these kiddos to learn to read?  And what can you do to help your child? 

Why Is Reading Difficult for Children with CAS?  Kids with apraxia have several problem areas to consider when reading comes into the picture:

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

 

  • Kids with speech-language disorders may have a distorted sense of what the symbols (letters) represent (letters are symbols which represent words).

 

  • Kids with apraxia may have “differently-wired” brains, affecting the way they read, learn, and interpret information.

 

  • Children affected with CAS may have a decreased ability to coordinate the vocal track in producing a word. 

When it comes to reading comprehension, researchers say that some kids with apraxia and other learning difficulties lack the appropriate strategies to allow them to understand what they just read. It’s complicated. Reading requires a lot: decoding words, visualization, understanding context, activating prior knowledge, a large vocabulary, and the ability to comprehend what you just read. For example, if a kid has to work really hard to understand (decode) the words on the page, then he may not have much energy left over for defining an unfamiliar word.

And now…how you can help! 
 (image source http://catholicblogger1.blogspot.com/2010/06/parent-involvement-in-ccd.html)

  • Read wordless books (Or have your child illsutrate her own). Don’t disregard books that have no print. They are important in getting kids to be the storyteller. Each time a child “reads” a wordless book, the story changes slightly. Of course, this may be harder to do if your child isn’t saying much. But the more you present the book, the more he will attempt.  
  • Engage in dialogic reading. What this means is you stop and ask your child questions about the book you are reading. “Oh, look. I see a little girl who is ready to go to school. She has a backpack. Can you say ‘backpack?’ What else do you see?”
  • Read riddles.Look for a riddle book the next time you are at the library. Great for long car rides or an after-dinner family activity. Riddles provide good exposure to, and practice with, the nuances of language.  Riddles also help develop a rich vocabulary and improve reading comprehension.
  • Explore letters and sounds.Develop a “Letter Center” at home if you have the space. Supply it

    with magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles, sponge letters, foam letters, sticker letters, rubber letter stamps, clay/Play-Doh and cookie cutters shaped like letters, and perhaps even computer software that focuses on the alphabet. In the same area, it may be a nice extension to offer different types of literacy materials: catalogs, labels, newspapers, empty cereal boxes, recipe cards, junk mail, and greeting cards. If it has print on it, it counts! 

  • Clap it out. You may want to start with a simple adaptation of clapping out syllables. Say, “I am going to clap my hands in a pattern. Repeat after me.” Then clap out a simple little sequence. Your child is listening to the rate and pattern of your claps. He should repeat it back to you. You can modify to add jumping or stomping in lieu of clapping. 
  • Play the “Letter a Day” game. Pick a letter and have it be the focus of your day. “Today we are going to focus on the letter B. Let’s see how many letter Bs we can find. Let’s try to say words that begin with the letter B. But first, let me show you what the letter B looks like.”  Everywhere you go, point the letter out in its uppercase and lowercase form. Practice making the /ba/ sound. Make a collage with the letter B. Play ball and say B words as you bounce or roll it to each other.  
  • Shop at home. Give your child a shopping bag. On the bag, write or attach a letter. Tell him to go around the house and collect things in his bag that begin with that letter sound. Talk about what he shopped for together. 
  • Make a name collage. Start by writing your child’s name on a large sheet of construction paper. Then look in old magazines and catalogs for items that start with the sound of his first name. Steven=stove, stop, stick, stone, stay, story. Let your child do some of the work.
  • Match letters to toys. Grab a few of your child’s favorite toys. Spread them out on the floor and make your own alphabet cards, making sure that you include some “correct” as well as “incorrect” cards. For example, say your grouping of toys consists of ball, doll, car, puzzle, and jump rope. Your alphabet cards would include the letters Bb, Dd, Cc, Pp, Jj. Throw in a couple of random letters as well, Rr, Zz, Hh. Have your child match the correct card to the correct toy. Practice saying the name of the object, as well as the sound the letter makes with your child.
  • Does this rhyme? Play this simple game in the car, in a waiting room, or even in the grocery story. Say, “I am thinking of three words. They are cat, bat, and ball. Which words rhyme?”

Be sure to check out and LIKE the FACEBOOK PAGE for SPEAKING OF APRAXIA.  Updated regularly with hints, tips, ideas, blogs, and more.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084?ref=hl 

[This above was a modified excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Woodbine House, 2012. Like what you read here? Get the book! Available thru Amazon, B&N, and the publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com]

Apraxia Monday: Tips for Teachers

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By Leslie Lindsay

Teachers and the Push for Online Education

Your children may already be back in school–or you may have week or two before the big day.  In any case, you’re likely thinking about it–specifics, plus the extras like how you’re going to talk to your child’s teacher about CAS (if you haven’t already).  But what if you are a teacher who has a child with apraxia in your classroom this year? 

Here are a few tips and ideas from parents who may help you understand what all of the hoop-la is about. 

(retrieved from CASANA, 8.30.12, a YouTube video]   See this short video on Apraxia.  It’s a worth your 3 minutes!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nN9dG5F7M0

Tips for Teachers

If you are a teacher reading this, then hooray! I applaud your efforts to learn more about the kiddos in your classroom.

  • Read the child’s IEP.
  • If parents challenge your knowledge, make special requests, or argue for a special IEP meeting, remind them that you are on their side and please don’t take it personally.As parents we just want the very best for our children and we might get a little passionate about it.
  • Communicate privately with parents and never in front of other classmates,unless it is to give really good praise that will make your student feel really proud.These kids often know they can’t communicate as effectively as their peers and they may feel a bit defensive about it. Help build their self-esteem in every opportunity you can find.
  • Give parents advice and insight you learned from teaching their child. For example, “Kate did a great job teaching another student about how we sit at Circle Time. She loves to be in the helper role.” Parents love to hear praise and stories about their child doing well.
  • You may need to do a bit more “pre-teaching” when working with a child with CAS.Let her hear and practice vocabulary words ahead of time (send them home in backpack with a letter to parents indicating the upcoming unit).
  • You might need to work a bit harder to engage a student with apraxia in group activities.Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t respond right away (or at all); just keep trying.
  • Each day is a new beginning.What this student struggled with yesterday could be a non-issue today. Please don’t hold grudges.
  • Be sure you give your students with CAS lots of praise.It helps their confidence level and self-esteem. While you’re at it, praise her parents, too. They’re working really hard all day, every day, to help their child.
  • Relate something special about your student to the parents at least weekly.I can’t tell you how happy it made me to receive an out-of-the-blue email from our teacher saying something like, “Kate was really cute today in class when she started dancing and singing, ‘Mama Mia!’” Small accomplishments mean a lot to us parents.
  • Respond to parents in one way or another (phone, email, “I’ll get back to you later”), even if you don’t have an answer.Parents do not like feeling like they have been forgotten.
  • Realize that we all get burned out.Parents need encouragement and motivation, just like teachers. If we can encourage one another, then all the better!

[Excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House, 2012.  Available thru Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and publisher’s website, www.woodbinehouse.com]

Apraxia Monday: Preparing Your Child for the First Day of School

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By Leslie Lindsay

Hard to believe that back-to-school is amongst us–how is it even possible that it’s already August 6th?!  Here are some more tips and ideas to help you and your child ease your way into the school scene. 

Preparing Your Child for the First Day

Where your child is concerned, start early, but not too early, in prepping him for school. Be sure to drive by the school ahead of time. Point it out and get excited about the place where your child will be learning and playing. Then, a week or so later, pack a picnic and head over for lunch and some time on the playground. Your child will remember that you were there with her, so when she is playing with classmates, it won’t seem so unfamiliar. Teach her how to ask others to join her in play (see bullet points below).

The building may be big and potentially confusing.Either way, go to orientation and show your child around. Remind her that she will never be walking around the school without a teacher or parent. Take photos of your child with her teacher and the classroom and some common areas of the school (ask first). Print them out and present them to her in a little photo book. Study the photos and talk about them together. Have her carry the photo book in her backpack to look at on the bus.    

 
 
   

Speaking of which, if your child will be riding the bus, calm those fears too, but be careful not to create new ones. Kids often worry that they will get on the wrong bus or that they won’t make it home. Assure her that teachers will make sure she gets on the right bus and you will meet her at the bus stop. Kids who ride the bus are often better prepared to start the school day than if Mom and Dad do the drop off. Why? It gives kids a chance to be introspective and prepare in their own way. It also lessens the separation anxiety from you.

A final tip is to get to the local library and check out some books on going to school. Read those books periodically in the days leading up to the first day.

          Other ways to prepare: 

  • Describe the school-day routines (get a copy of the schedule from the teacher). Discuss what happens first, where her cubby is located, the bathroom, snack, and lunch routines, and going-home procedures. Answer any questions your child may have. This helps prevent any surprises.
  • Make sure you attend the “sneak peek day” with your child before classes start. Get to know people who may be able to help your child and point them out to your child. “If you ever need help being understood, look for this nice lady at the front desk. She will help you.”
  • Practice saying these feel-good confidence boosters:
    • “I know you can do this!”
    • “I trust you will do well at school.”
    • “You are very important to me.”
    • “I will always love and care for you.” 
    • “If you want to talk, I will listen.”
    • My youngest daughter liked this one: “Parents always come back [for pick-up].”

Make your own Social Story about a child going to school for the first time. It’s simple. Draw pictures (or have your child draw them) and then write a brief sentence on each page about what’s happening in the picture. Page one might go like this: “This is Kate. Today is her first day of school.” Page two: “She is going to kindergarten. Hooray!” Go through general steps and feelings. The book should be no more than 10 pages.

Next week, we’ll cover more specific concerns related to a child with CAS.

[the above was an excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House 2012.  It is available thru www.woodbinehouse.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.)

Apraxia Monday: Reading and Writing Go Hand-in-Hand, Part 1

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By Leslie Lindsay

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My youngest daughter is complaining that she can’t go to kindergarten just yet.  Why, you wonder?  Well, she seems to be worried that she can’t write (well).  I smile because I know she can (age-appropriately) and I smile because I know she is a perfectionist…much like me. 

Learning to write is a complicated process.  First, one needs a basic understanding of the alphabet…and then one must have the knowledge that letters represent sounds and sounds make words.  Of course, forming all of those words is another task–one needs to know the correct order in which to put all of those letters in to make a word.  Argh!! 

If you feel discouraged, bear with me.  I will give you some tips and ideas for helping your child–apraxia, or no–develop some skills for handwriting.

First, though a quick run-down of why it’s so hard to learn to write:

  • Lots of reflexes must come together  to control a pencil/pen and the rate and rhythm of writing
  • Your child will need to be able to cross the midline of his/her body with the dominant hand
  • She should understand that it is her fingers that are controlling the writing utensil
  • Eyes must be able to focus and follow a line on the paper
  • Motor planning to “draw” the letters correctly
  • The abililty to sit still

What’s  Parent to Do??!

  • It may be fun to start out with some large motor movements of the arms.   (That’s because gross motor is typically developed before fine motor, e.g. handwriting).  So, do some big arm circles, flap ’em like a bird, and have fun.  Your child will be none the wiser.
  • Some experts recommend starting with an up-and-down writing surface such as an easel or whiteboard/chalkboard.  It all has to do with developing those large trunk muscles, arms, etc. Later, you can introduce flat, tabletop style of writing.
  • Allow your children to experiement with fine motor control–fidget toys, small toys like Polly Pockets, Transformers, Legos, Wikki Sticks or Bendaroos all do the job of developing those fine motor skills necessary for handwriting. 

Next week, we will talk about other things you can do at home–as well as why writing with CAS is more challenging.

More tips and ideas on handwriting with apraxia can be found in “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech” (Woodbine House, March 2012), available through Woodbine House, Amazon, and B&N. 

 Additional information on handwriting and large/gross motor skill development at the American Occupational Therapy Associaion (AOTA) at www.aota.org

Be sure to check out and “like” the Speaking of Apraxia Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=hp#!/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084

Apraxia Update: One Week Till The Walk in Michigan

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By Leslie Lindsay

Just one week to go till I make an appearance at the SE Michigan walk for apraxia.  It’s going to be a fun time as we all support a complex, neurologically-based motor speech disorder (gosh, that’s a mouthful…ironically). 

Here’s some information that you may find handy as you make plans for the weekend, from the Apraxia-Kids website (who sponsors the walks nationwide):

http://www.apraxia-kids.org/faf/help/helpEventInfo.asp?ievent=1013204&lis=1&kntae1013204=9DFC408896BF4EFDBF20FBC3D5A67093

I’ll be there with my own family–a daughter who is also recovering from CAS–and maybe even a basset hound (who could use some speech therapy because all she seems to do is grunt and groan…it’s such a harsh life she leads).  Naaa…we’ll probably leave Miss Sally Mae at home under the care of our neighbors. 

Joking aside, this is a serious matter and I am honored to be asked to attend the walk.  Not only will I be there supporting a good cause, but a lovely family who was part of my Small Talk: All About Apraxia group spring 2011.  I’ll also have books available for purchase/signing ($20 cash, suggested retail is $24.95). 

Come on out!  Help spread the word on apraxia…

(Woodbine House, 2o12) 

Apraxia Monday: Improving Reading Skills

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children_reading-istimewa.jpg image by bankfotowol
By Leslie Lindsay 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, What’s a Parent to do?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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